Exploratory Interviews to Understand Stakeholder Perspectives

To better understand stakeholders' views on the key goals for the firefighter selection process, we conducted exploratory interviews with key stakeholders listed in Table 1.1.[1] These interviews were largely unstructured and intended to confirm the relevance of the objectives we outlined for the project.

Table 1.1

Stakeholder Interviewees

Fire Chief

Chief Deputy, Administrative Operations

Deputy Chief, Training and Support Bureau

Assistant Chief, Special Operations

Assistant Chief, Employee Relations

Division Deputy Chief, Training and Support

Deputy Chief, Emergency Operations

Fire Inspector

Battalion Chief, Recruit Services Section

Battalion Chief, North Division, Battalion 9, Shift A

Battalion Chief, South Division, Battalion 13, Shift C

Captain II, Station 33

President, Los Angeles Fireman's Relief Association

Head (Captain I), Recruitment Unit

Captain II, Station 94

Captain II, Station 100

Captain II, Station 71

President, LAFD Fire Commission

Vice President, LAFD Fire Commission

LAFD Fire Commissioner

President, United Firefighters of Los Angeles

President, Stentorians

President, Los Bomberos

President, Los Angeles Women in the Fire Service

President, Chief Officers Association

Captain II, Recruitment Unit

Review of Existing Documentation and Informational Interviews on Recruiting and Selection Processes

To gain a better understanding of the current firefighter selection process, we reviewed existing documentation on the process provided by the Personnel Department. We also met with Personnel Department staff to clarify facts about the selection process and to determine the professional, legal, and financial rationale behind each step in the selection process. A summary of that selection process is provided in Chapter Three.

We also met with members of the LAFD's Recruit Services Section to learn more about the firefighter recruitment and outreach efforts. A summary of the recruiting services role is provided in Chapter Two along with a summary of comments that stakeholders made about possible improvements to the recruiting process.

Job Incumbent Focus Groups to Confirm and Identify New Key Duties, Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Other Characteristics for Firefighter Service

We examined three key sources of information in order to document and assess the inherent duties and KSAOs needed to successfully perform the job of firefighter in a large, urban city such as Los Angeles. First, we reviewed a broad range of literature on firefighter job requirements, including online firefighter job descriptions from a variety of fire departments nationwide and the Occupational Information Network (0*NET), an online resource provided by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.[2] Second, we reviewed an unpublished 1994 job analysis study conducted by the Los Angeles Personnel Department's Research Section and a related 2010 update, also unpublished, that was conducted by a private-sector firm. Finally, we conducted focus group interviews to confirm and supplement the KSAOs identified in 1994 and 2010.

Data Analyses to Examine Disparate Impact of the 2013 Selection Process

We analyzed quantitative data on the 2013 firefighter applicants (provided by the Personnel Department and the external organization that administers the CPAT) to better understand the impact of the selection process on the race and gender diversity of the firefighter applicants and selectees. The results of the disparate impact analyses are described in Chapter Four.

Organization of This Report

In the next chapter, we present our examination of firefighter recruitment and outreach strategies. In Chapter Three, we provide an overview of the city's firefighter selection process (as it existed at the start of this study), and in Chapter Four we present our statistical analysis of how the selection process was applied to the 2013 cohort of applicants, with a focus on how each step of the process affected the demographic diversity of the applicant pool. We present our recommendations for improving the firefighter selection process in Chapter Five.

We have also included five appendixes that provide further background information and data to support our recommendations. Appendix A provides an overview of key considerations that organizations should have when evaluating a selection process, including validity, reliability, legal defensibility, the value of diversity, and costs. Appendix B summarizes our analysis of key firefighter duties and KSAOs. Appendix C supplements a specific recommendation in Chapter Five–that the LAFD's written test for candidates be sourced to an outside vendor–by providing information on three possible vendors. Finally, Appendixes D and E provide additional technical background on Chapter Five's discussion of the use of random sampling as a possible method for reducing the applicant pool to a manageable size.

  • [1] All participants in the stakeholder interviews were asked if they would like us to keep their participation confidential or if we could mention them by name in our reports. All agreed to be mentioned by name.
  • [2] O*NET provides a database that contains information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors. The database is continually updated by surveying a broad range of workers from each occupation.
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