The Fire Department can’t seem to keep itself out of the media spotlight. Whether it’s too many white males in the current recruit class or the rejection of recruit applications because they weren’t submitted by 1 minute past 8 a.m. on April 22, 2013. The politicians would have you believe the Department continues shootin’ itself in the foot. Don’t believe it.
The latest uproar is over the seemingly high percentage of kin that are hired by the Department. How can the Department hire sons, daughters or in-laws of current members? Additionally, any department commander in charge of a section, such as training, was transferred so it wouldn’t look as though favoritism was runnin’ amuck.
In my opinion, the Personnel Department has as much sense as the man in the moon. After screenin’ candidates and selectin’ qualified recruits to enter the Drill Tower, the powers-to-be know exactly who and how many have been hired. Yet part way through the Drill Tower it was shockingly discovered that the class had too many males and not enough females. How in the heck could that have happened? Didn’t Personnel know who they hired? Naturally, everyone from the Mayor on down was shocked and wanted to launch an investigation. The Department was plastered all over the newspapers with allegations of bias and unfair hirin’ practices and of course the public was lead to believe that the Department was out of line – again. And if there were any explanations or defense, it was never reported.
I’d sure like to know who digs up these stories. Somehow the Department has now been accused of hirin’ too many kin. Obviously no one has checked the Department’s history or noticed how many quality individuals have followed in their father’s footsteps. Also, it appears no has looked at how many kin are hired by the LAPD, DWP, Harbor Department or even the Mayor’s office. Uh, excuse me, has anyone heard of the Garcetti or Hahn or Kennedy or Bush families? So because the Fire Department hirin’ practices are in question, this matter must point to a deeper problem and thus, requires another investigation. Yet because the media and the politicians don’t deal with facts, the Department remains in the cross-hairs while those in charge keep searchin’ for the smokin’ gun.
I worked with many family members whose fathers, brothers and uncles were on the job. And believe it or not they all were required to go through the Drill Tower and pass all the tests like everyone else. So what’s the problem? It’s the perception. Someone thinks it looks bad, but has no proof or evidence that this creates an unfair hirin’ practice. To me it’s perfectly natural. Don’t most sons follow in the footsteps of their fathers?
Again, no one has come to the defense of the Department. Although there’s really nothin’ to defend, wouldn’t it feel good to grab the Mayor, members of the City Council and Fire Commissioners by their bow ties, sit them down and explain the business of the Fire Department and the difference between quantity and quality.
On March 9th, family and friends of retired Capt Jack Van Eaton gathered in Bothell, WA to celebrate Jack’s 90th birthday. It’s amazing how many people will show up for free food and cake. Typical of Jack’s firefighting days, he couldn’t extinguish the candles on the cake – think global warming. The local fire chief ordered the ballroom exit doors opened to prevent the 90 candles from setting off the smoke alarm.
Jack remains active serving as a fire commissioner for the local fire department. He also spends time traveling this great country that he served in WWII. Last year an 11,600 mile trip took him through five Canadian provinces and 35 states. Along the way he visited 75 fire stations. This year Jack will be in SoCal with a stopover at FS 35 – so 35’s, you are forewarned.
Jack at 90