LAFD's Recruitment and Outreach Strategies
Outreach and recruitment fall within the purview of the Recruitment Unit–a subset of the LAFD's Recruit Services Section. The four individuals who make up this unit attend job fairs and community events and conduct school visitations. Individual firefighters also often assist with these activities on their off days.
Four youth fire academies in the greater Los Angeles area strive to equip youth with life skills and professional guidance, in addition to teaching them the ins-and-outs of firefighting. These academies often serve as precursors to the Cadet Program, which functions as an internship that introduces youth to the culture and expectations of the LAFD.
LAFD personnel and stakeholders we interviewed felt that a lack of sufficient funds and available personnel significantly impacts the time, resources, and effort invested in firefighter outreach and recruitment, and that expanding the recruiting budget and staff would favorably impact outreach and recruiting efforts across Los Angeles. Our interviewees reported a belief that some members of minority groups, and women especially, have had a lower propensity to apply for firefighter positions compared with white males, but that improving the diversity of the applicant pool is possible with a long-term outreach and recruitment campaign.
The City's Current Selection Process
Based on documentation from the Personnel Department and interviews with its staff, we obtained details on the ten-step process of selecting firefighters used by the city in 2013. These are provided in Chapter Three.
Statistical Analysis of the Selection Process
Using data from the 2013 cohort of applicants, we identified steps in the process (1) that eliminated a large proportion of the applicants and (2) that had disparate impact on the racial, ethnic, and gender representation of the applicant pool. We found the following:
• Most applicants who met the minimum eligibility requirements were eliminated by either the written exam portion of the firefighter selection process or the requirement to submit their Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) certification within a specific time window. (Firefighter applicants are required to pass the CPAT, which is administered by an external organization, the California Fire Fighter Joint Apprentice Committee. In 2013, candidates could submit their CPAT certification starting at 8:00 a.m., April 22, 2013. Due to an overwhelming number of respondents, only those applicants who submitted their certification in the first minute after 8:00 a.m. were permitted to continue in the hiring process.)
• A larger proportion of Hispanic, black, and female applicants failed to take and pass the written test portion of the selection process, relative to white male appl icants.
• A larger proportion of Hispanic, black, Asian, and female applicants failed to submit their CPAT certification within the required time window, relative to white male applicants.
• According to data from the organization that administers the CPAT, 94 percent of the people who take the test pass it. Hence, the CPAT itself does not eliminate many applicants.