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Fire Department working on recruitment practices

June 16, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Glendale fire officials plan to develop a recruitment strategy to diversify their ranks and make it easier for existing personnel to be promoted from within and stay with the agency.

As part of the five-year strategic plan, officials will create a recruitment committee to identify the city’s demographics and develop methods for hiring applicants who reflect those ethnic categories.

They will also develop programs that would allow firefighters to learn skills from more experienced employees and give them an opportunity to promote to other positions.

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“We understand the challenges that we face with recruitment,” Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said recently at a City Hall budget session meeting. “We know the community is paying attention to it.”

Councilman Rafi Manoukian raised concerns at the meeting about the department’s recruitment process, saying former Glendale Fire Chief Christopher Gray had assured him 10 years ago that recruitment efforts would generate more Armenian American firefighters to reflect the local community.

“Ten years later, the result is zero,” Manoukian said. “Nothing is there.”

But Scoggins said the department has made progress, recruiting one woman and four Armenian American firefighters within the last decade.

And about 40% of the hires were from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including African, Armenian and Korean Americans, Scoggins said.

“I think the programs are yielding results,” he said. “But they are not just yielding results for Armenian Americans; they are yielding results from a number of different backgrounds.”

The recruitment strategy is one of eight goals identified in the department’s strategic plan.

For the first time ever, community members, city staffers and fellow public safety officials weighed in on the Fire Department’s strategic planning process.

Having community members understand the department’s mission was critical in its success, Scoggins said at a budget session.

During the planning process, community members indicated that they didn’t know the types of services the Fire Department provides.

“It’s important that we have great relationships with our neighbors because we help each other so much,” he said.

Among the other goals that came out of the strategy sessions: develop plans to maintain and replace facilities and equipment; streamline incident response planning; analyze workloads; and find ways to better communicate and work together with other agencies for mutual aid.

Officials also want to evaluate the effectiveness of community education programs.

All of this, Scoggins said, in addition to the department’s core values.

“There really are no excuses,” he said. “We have to be above the mark all the time.”

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