City Council confirms appointment of woman fire chief

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LOS ANGELES — The City Council unanimously confirmed the appointment of Deputy Chief Kristin Crowley to be the first woman to lead the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The appointment is effective March 26, when Chief Ralph Terrazas is scheduled to retire.

“I think it’s so fitting for this nomination to come to council today, on the first day of Women’s History Month,” City Council President Nury Martinez said. “Our city’s fire department has gone 136 years without a woman in its highest office and today we’re going to finally be able to turn the page.”

Martinez added that Crowley “made a name for herself in the department as a strong leader, a hard worker and someone who does not shy away from a challenge.”

Crowley already made history within the department when she became the city’s first female fire marshal in 2016.

“I’m truly honored to be considered the nominee for the next fire chief of the Los Angeles city fire department and I am humbled and proud to have earned the opportunity to represent each and every one of our 3,779-strong civilian and sworn personnel of our department,” Crowley told council members prior to their vote March 1.

Crowley took the firefighters’ exam in 1998 and placed among the top 50 scores out of 16,000 applicants, according to the department. During her 22 years in the department, she rose through the ranks as firefighter, firefighter paramedic, engineer, fire inspector, captain I, captain II, battalion chief, assistant chief, fire marshal and deputy chief.

“Throughout her distinguished career, Kristin Crowley has proven her brilliance, determination and bravery on the job again and again,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in announcing Crowley’s nomination on Jan. 18. “She’s also shown this city her heart, with her tireless commitment to helping students access life-changing educational opportunities. There is no one better equipped to lead the LAFD at this moment than Kristin. She’s ready to make history, and I’m proud to nominate her as the department’s next chief.”

As deputy chief, Crowley helped develop a five-year strategic plan aimed at fostering a culture within the department that is more open to change, according to the mayor’s office. She said she will build on that effort to deepen existing efforts and create new ways to foster equity and inclusion within the department, the mayor’s office added.

Martinez said in January that Crowley is known “as someone who works hard and goes above and beyond what she’s expected to do. She looks at a challenge and says ‘I’m going to do that. I’m going to do that and more. Just watch me.’”

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee, said Crowley has earned a reputation for being “well informed on every aspect of the job. It’s what earned her the respect of her peers, and it is what has continued to embolden her succession in the department to achieving this most prestigious and highest rank.”

Terrazas, who became the department’s first Latino chief when appointed in 2014, previously announced his intention to retire this year.

“It was a privilege to serve as the fire chief of this world-class department,” he said on Jan. 18. “For nearly eight years, we made considerable strides in technology, implemented innovative ways to respond to emergencies, and became a model for other agencies.”

Terrazas added that Crowley “is an exemplary leader and has a broad base of experience that will serve the department well. … Chief Crowley has been successful at every position and I expect her success to continue as the next fire chief.”

Crowley will lead an agency that has recently come under fire for allegations of a culture of racism, sexism, retaliation and abuse endured by women at the department.

Crowley cited improving the work environment among her priorities as chief.

“As the next fire chief, my priorities will be to ensure the LAFD stands ready and remains operationally efficient to serve our communities and this great city; that we enhance and support our firefighters’ safety, health and overall well-being; and that we promote and demand a work environment that is free of harassment, discrimination and hazing,” she told council members.

“Our efforts will be maximized by making sure diversity is celebrated and valued, and that equity and inclusion are intertwined into every policy, procedure and practice,” she added.

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