Los Angeles Fire Department struggles to add Women to their Firefighter Rolls

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 5th, 2014

Week in Review

Men and women are different.  Men are bigger and stronger.  Which is why women have easier physical requirements than the men at our service academies.  Because it’s very important to have more women in the military.  Apparently.  So they make it easier for the women.  But it’s just not our service academies that are desperate to have more women complete training successfully.  Even the Los Angeles Fire Department has been struggling with this (see Only female in LAFD’s class of firefighter recruits resigns by Ben Welsh and Robert J. Lopez posted 4/2/2014 on the Los Angeles Times).

The only woman selected for a controversial class of Los Angeles Fire Department recruits has resigned in the latest setback to a decades-long effort to increase the number of women in the department’s ranks…

“I didn’t feel like it was ultimately the job for me,” Juergens said in an interview Wednesday. “But I was very welcomed and offered support and encouragement along the way…”

… despite repeated efforts at reform, the percentage of female firefighters remains at just under 3% — the same as in 1995…

“We can debate what percentage of female recruits is possible, but 0% is absolutely unacceptable,” Robb said…

The city has asked Rand Corp. to help overhaul firefighter screening and hiring procedures, as well as examine the practices of the training academy.

“We want to make sure we hire the most qualified firefighter candidates possible and maximize their chances of success,” Robb said.

In other words, the city has asked Rand Corp. how they can make the training easier so more women stay in through completion.  I mean, what else could the problem be?  Men are able to complete training.  So the training is not impossible.  And they’re not making it harder for the women.  This recruit said that she ” was very welcomed and offered support and encouragement along the way.”  I sure hope they’re not doing this for the male recruits.  For if they don’t have what it takes people would want to know that during training.  Not at a fire where they may imperil their fellow firefighters or the people they’re supposed to save.  No, to make sure only the best make it through any training program it should be more like this (WARNING: This movie clip is rated R and is not suitable for the workplace.  It has offensive language and violent content.  Including a suicide.  Some may find it very disturbing).

Running into gunfire or into a burning building goes against every fiber in your body.  But if you complete training as stressful and horrible as this there’s nothing you feel you can’t do.  And no matter how horrible it is at least it isn’t as bad as your training.  This is why so few people complete good training.  Because training is hard.  It’s not supposed to be easy.  It’s supposed to prepare you for the worst.  Not nurture and encourage you.  For if you’re running into gunfire or into a burning building who do you want at your side?  Someone who was treated nice during training who was supported and encouraged?  Or someone who went to hell and back?  Someone so mentally and physically strong that they will be there for you no matter how bad things get?

Firefighter training is not as difficult as Marine training (incidentally, the drill instructor in the movie clip ad-libbed a lot of those lines.  R. Lee Ermey was a real drill instructor who served a tour of duty in Vietnam).  But making it easier for women to complete training is not going to make better firefighters.  It’s going to allow less physically and mentally strong people make it through training.  Which can’t make the good people of Los Angeles feel safer.  At least not those who may need a firefighter to rescue them one day.

And there’s nothing wrong with 0% of female recruits completing the training and joining the fire department.  It just means 100% of the recruits who did are highly qualified.  As well as male.  That’s all.

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