Established in 1887, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) is the second largest municipal fire department in the United States protecting over four million people. In 1974, the federal government filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles claiming that the city discriminated against Blacks, Latinos, and Asians. In 1974 only 5% of the department was minorities. As a result of the Federal Consent Decree, the LAFD adopted an Affirmative Action Program and created a Minority Recruitment Unit to improve the recruitment of members of underrepresented demographic groups.
In April of 2002, a Federal Judge threw out the 28-year-old consent decree quota system for hiring Los Angeles city firefighters, saying it had “outlasted its purpose.” The elimination of the consent decree placed added pressure and responsibility on Los Bomberos to ensure that minorities continue to receive fair treatment and not allow a regression in the recruitment and retention of Latino firefighters.