LAFD Women’s Firefighters Group: Chief ignored reports of abuse and should be removed – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentry

A coalition of women firefighters from the Los Angeles Fire Department today called on Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas to be
withdrawn for allegedly ignoring allegations of sexism, harassment and abuse suffered by women in the department.
In a letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti, the women of the Los Angeles Fire Department alleged that Terrazas “ignored, minimized, denied or actively obstructed any investigation into cultural issues with LAFD.”
The association said in the letter that the exclusion of women and minority firefighters at the department begins in the hiring process and at the academy, where they must exceed standards in order to meet them. “It becomes much more insidious when we reach our first assignments as intern firefighters when we have a grim choice to endure the abuse in silence or give up on the idea of ​​a successful career (or any).” , indicates the letter.
Alleged abuses include harassment, particularly in the form of excrement spilled into women’s toilets; male firefighters exposing themselves and saying ‘this is what a firefighter looks like’; racist objects inside the fire station; and racist and sexist comments and physical violence, according to the letter to Garcetti.
In a statement to the City News Service, Terrazas said he met with the association on Thursday and “discussed collaborative initiatives to protect and improve our work environments,” including updating the department’s guidelines on disciplinary sanctions. , more frequent distribution of department-wide messages and delivery of specific messages. training to improve the corporate culture. “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. Garcetti backed Terrazas in a statement to the City News Service, saying he had “full confidence” in the fire chief.

“Chief Terrazas has done a great job leading and rebuilding our fire department during some of our toughest days and I have full confidence in him. He and all of LAFD management know I have zero tolerance for sexism, racism or harassment in our fire stations or any workplace – and I expect them to act urgently. when allegations of abuse come to their attention, ”Garcetti said.

“The experiences that some firefighters have come forward to report are sickening and utterly unacceptable, and I am working closely with the Chief and others in this conversation to accelerate transformative institutional reforms to bring about the fundamental change we all recognize must exist.” everywhere in this city and in this department.

Los Angeles Women in the Fire Service President Kris Larson, who served LAFD for 31 years, held a press conference with representatives from Equity on Fire, Women’s March Action, California National Organization on Monday. of Women and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California. Larson alleged that Terrazas called the incidents “unique
or pockets.

“The apathy, contempt and inaction of our leaders has allowed a culture of intimidation to grow and develop within the department with disastrous results,” said Larson. “Those who are brave enough to bring a complaint face retaliation, hazing and retaliation during their posting. Cheryl Getuiza, acting director of public information for the Los Angeles Fire Department, said in a statement, “The City of Los Angeles Fire Department takes all complaints seriously and investigates them immediately. notification. Disciplinary action will be taken if the preponderance of evidence indicates that the misconduct took place.

However, if the Department is not informed of a complaint, we cannot process it and take appropriate action if necessary. In addition, the Chief is aware of any incidents of misconduct and encourages members of the department to report all allegations of inappropriate behavior.

Lauren Andrade, an 18-year veteran of the Orange County Fire Authority, spoke as a representative of Equity On Fire, a coalition to fight systemic discrimination in the fire service. She said an LAFD firefighter, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was raped by another firefighter inside a fire station.

“I chose to remain anonymous because I know the pain that will come with the exhibition. I was told there was nothing more I could do. It’s his word against mine. A man, a 15 year veteran against me, a rookie and a woman, ”the woman said via Andrade.

Andrade did not disclose details of the alleged rape, but said it happened in 2016 or 2017. She added that she believed someone other than the victim reported it. and that “we knew it had happened”.

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