LAFD Chief Crowley reflects on 1st year on job, hopes to hire more firefighters

Wednesday, March 29, 2023
LAFD Chief Crowley reflects on 1st year on job
Chief Crowley reflects on 1st year as head of LAFD, hopes to hire more firefighters.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles City Fire Chief Kristin Crowley is one year into leading a department she was hired to change, and is keeping her focus where it started.

Crowley spent the previous 22 years climbing ranks within the LAFD. At the top, she is focused on figuring out how to get more people in the door to serve as a firefighter.

LAFD gets thousands of calls a day coming into the dispatch center. Demand is way up and staffing levels are not.

"We're at 3,700 (staff), but that also includes our civilian staff," said Crowley. "We're at 3,400 with our firefighters."

Crowley says having about 4,000 firefighters would be ideal.

"Now once we get to the position we fill our vacancies, that's what I'm really excited about because we already have a plan in place of where and what we need to better, just build an agility when it comes to our resource capability," Crowley said.

The added staff will help make sure the LAFD is not wasting taxpayer resources, she said.

"Just know the LAFD, from boots on the ground, our rank and file, first and foremost, that's where I start. What do our rank and file, what do our field resources need?" Crowley said.

From there, she said the department considers how much it costs to upgrade fire stations, equipment and strategies, including targeting how and who they recruit.

In 2021, female firefighters and firefighters of color reported an abject failure of leadership to address rampant racism and sexism within the department.

Crowley made the cultural priorities clear just by stepping into the job, as the city's first female and first LGBTQ+ fire chief.

And at her direction last November, the department launched its first ever diversity, equity and inclusion bureau.

"That continual push to strive to be better and to train our supervisors, and all members within the fire department, so that we're all going in the same direction when it comes to how we treat one another in the fire service," Crowley said.

Crowley said she will measure results in a couple of ways, including receiving less complaints. But she also wants people who experience misconduct to report it, by believing in accountability.

"And in the end, the reality is changing somebody's behavior. That's what discipline is all about," Crowley said. "So those are a couple of different pieces but also creating that space within the LAFD, so that members do feel comfortable coming forward."