Women firefighters call for the dismissal of the LAFD chief

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Los Angeles Firefighters and Women’s Advocates on Monday called on Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas to step down after months of allegations that female firefighters are victims of hazing, intimidation and sexual harassment by from their male colleagues.

Representatives of women from the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California, Women’s March Action and the California National Organization for Women held a press conference to denounce the treatment of women in the department.

“We are calling for an end to the good old boys’ club at LAFD,” said Kolieka Siegel, president of the National Women’s Organization. She also addressed the mayor directly, telling him “Mayor Eric Garcetti, you have work to do”.

Jennifer Wilcox, a 13-year firefighter veteran, said “Widespread sexism, racism, harassment and abuse continue to occur in a culture that has perpetuated this behavior year after year.”

“It’s not just a female issue or a minority issue,” Wilcox said. “These are human rights issues. “

She also called on Garcetti to keep his 2013 pledge to bring “a much needed change to the culture” of the fire department, an agency long pursued by allegations of racial and gender discrimination.

Terrazas, in a statement, said Monday that he had recently met with the women of the Los Angeles Fire Department to “discuss collaborative initiatives to protect and improve our work environments.”

“I respect the LAWFS and all of our other fire service organizations and will continue to have open communication and meetings to move forward together,” Terrazas said.

A Times report in August detailed the fire department’s “fellowship house” culture and described allegations of hazing and intimidation of female firefighters.

LAist.com reported on Friday allegations of retaliation and discrimination at the service, a female firefighter who said she had been threatened with sexual violence after filing a workplace complaint.

A 2019 study by the Los Angeles Women in the Fire Service found widespread sexism in fire stations. The women said they were targeted with sexist remarks and nearly half said they were reluctant to report misconduct for fear of being labeled “that kind of girl,” according to a female firefighter.

One of Garcetti’s commissioners at the Fire Commission, Rebecca Ninburg, said in court testimony earlier this year that LAFD is a “very hostile work environment for women, a very hostile work environment for women. hostile”.

“Women are not safe to speak. They can’t talk about their – what happened to them. It’s not safe to do that, ”Ninburg said.

LAFD Battalion Chief Kris Larson, Women’s President of the Los Angeles Fire Department, also said at a Fire Commission hearing last month that the female firefighters were refusing to file a hazing and abuse complaint because that they feared reprisals. She said the female firefighters did not trust the ministry’s complaints system and did not believe their complaint would be “administered fairly”.

Garcetti’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.


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