Los Bomberos Est. 1966
Founded in 1966, Los Bomberos is the longest serving Latino Firefighters Association in the United States. In 1966 Captain Jim Trotter and several other firefighters assigned to East Los Angeles Fire Station 2 embarked on a journey that would change the lives for many generations to come. Since that time many other influential leaders from the LAFD have contributed to the long term goals of Los Bomberos. Such leaders as Deputy Chief Rey Rojo, Battalion Chief Ralph Ramirez, Battalion Chief John Quintanar, and Captain Henry Olvera have paved the way for other young Latino Firefighters to achieve their career goals as well as enrich the lives of the diverse communities of Los Angeles.
Today Los Bomberos still maintains its presence in our fire stations and throughout our communities and continues to support its mission dedicated to the recruitment, hiring and advancement of qualified Firefighter candidates and LAFD members who possess the skills necessary to provide emergency services to diverse communities. Los Bomberos is committed to ensuring that Latinos, Hispanics, and other groups have equal opportunity for upward mobility within the LAFD through their demonstrated competence and leadership, and our influence and political action.
The 1974 Consent Decree
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.
1995 Human Relations Development Committee (HRDC)
April 12, 1994, the City Council directed the Personnel Department, with cooperation of the LAFD and in consultation with the affected employee unions and organizations, to conduct a study of LAFD personnel practices, including, but not limited to recruitment, employee development programs, training opportunities, transfer and assignment practices, classification and allotment of positions, promotional examinations, applications to higher positions, pay grade advancement procedures, certification and appointment procedures, and disciplinary process. The study was completed in November 1994 to address the issues raised by the Personnel Department’s 1994 study, the Board of Fire Commissioners established the Human Relations Development Committee (HRDC) within the Fire Department.
The HRDC was composed of representatives of employee groups within the Department, including the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City (UFLAC), the Chief Officers Association, Los Bomberos, the Stentorians, and the Sirens, as well as representatives from the LAFD staff, the Fire Commission, Citywide affirmative action associations and a representative of the Chair of the City Council’s Personnel Committee. This group reviewed the issues outlined in the Personnel Department study and prepared a report itemizing recommendations, priorities and timelines for implementation.
On August 15, 1995, the Board of Fire Commissioners approved the HRDC’s implementation plan and on October 25, 1995, the City Council directed the Fire Department to implement the HRDC’s recommendations.
2006 Management Audit of the LAFD
In 2005 City Controller Laura Chick issued a report that among other things found that new recruits and minority and female firefighters at the Los Angeles Fire Department found that the majority believe they work in a hostile environment where sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and hazing are rife. As a result of lawsuits and complaints, the Controller issued a report to the Mayor, City Council and the Fire Chief with her findings.