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Morning Line – March 22

Morning Lineup b

Saturday – You’re Not Wanted in L.A.

The new mayor of Los Angeles is showing his stripes already, including the “to hell with the fire department” stripe.  It seems that the city hall bean counters got wind of the institutional practice of fast-tracking firefighters’ progeny into the recruit schools at the head of the line.  This is fairly standard practice in all departments and results in inserting some stability into the ranks as established “fire department families” continue to populate the department.

Also, the bean counters discovered that the applicants chosen for an upcoming class “failed to increase diversity” in the ranks.  But most controversial, and perhaps legitimate, was the department’s decision to cut off the acceptance of new applications one minute after they were opened for submission.  The city hall crowd is understandably concerned up front, but there are two factors to take into consideration.  One is that the recruiting office’s counseling and test preparation program held for city residents in the targeted demographic areas specifically advised the applicants to get their paperwork in (via email) before the computer lines had been open for no more than two minutes.

So why this cutoff so quickly after opening?  After shutting off the incoming mail box just 60 seconds after opening, they had already received more than 900 applications for the class.  It is not unusual for personnel departments to build in self-screening measures to eliminate a lot of applicants up front and thus keep the pool within a reasonable level that can be followed through and further tested.  However, this method does indeed act unfairly against the “quality” applicants who are unaware of the 60-second rule.

So where does the mayor’s prejudice against the department enter?  Like many politicians, he uses a verbal shroud to cover his real intentions.  According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the mayor proclaimed the hiring process “fatally flawed” and arbitrarily canceled the upcoming class and tossed out all the applications.  This would have been the first new class of recruits in five years and he tossed it.  Why?  Take into consideration that Los Angeles is bankrupt, several tens of millions of dollars in the red.  By cancelling the class, he can knock a few million off the unbalanced budget and preserve a politically popular program or two.

The reason such a huge city hasn’t had a recruit class in years is because the city has been mired in lawsuits filed by disgruntled applicants, and has paid out many more millions in court ordered settlements.  How much do you want to bet that this action triggers more court action?  No problem …. it’ll be years before they get settled and by then it will be the next mayor’s problem.

Read the related article in the Los Angeles Times HERE.

Let’s cut down on our own problems and get this equipment checked out before the Saturday shoppers begin finding new ways to get in trouble.  I’ll get the Bunn-O-Matic fired up and then meet you back in the day room.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Legeros

    Allow me to play devil’s advocate. Fast-tracking family members of firefighters into the recruit process is a pretty darn obvious sign of nepotism, which isn’t the most favored concept when viewed from outsiders looking in.

    “This is fairly standard practice in all departments and results in
    inserting some stability into the ranks as established “fire department
    families” continue to populate the department.”

    Does the data support your (or a general anecdotal) perception? Do “family relations” have a higher retention, job performance, job success rate, when compared against those who enter “cold”?

  • jesse

    I use the term “nespotism” for the practice.
    FD’s as all public service jobs should not be private family fiefdoms.
    Especially as public service jobs are fast becoming, at least currently, the only jobs with defined pension benefits and generous early retirement provisions.
    Hard to garner public respect when a nespotic system like this is exposed to the public.

  • B.Morgan

    Having been a “victim” of family nepotism early in my career I don’t like it one bit. Went all the way getting training, experience, taking the tests and waiting for years. Once hired found several family members who had come in the back door with connections. They should follow all the same procedures. I ended up supervising one such family hire and he was the most lazy, worthless slacker I had every met. Anytime he was in trouble, and that was a lot, he simply said, Belter talk to the “Chief” with a sick grin. The rest of the crew despised him. The “Chief” retired, the family hire continued to arrived late and drunk for shift. He ended his career with a DUI arrest on duty, a convictions and early resignation.