Controller Laura Chick, in releasing her latest city audit, said the Los Angeles Fire Department "lacked strong and decisive leadership, and a clear and understandable vision." She began the audit after a whistle-blower reported unchecked worplace harassment. Her report Thursday found:
* Workplace harassment and hazing issues are more prevalent than indicated by the number of investigations LAFD has undertaken.
* Formal investigations are poorly documented, lack independence and undertaken by untrained and inexperienced personnel.
* The Fire Chief's vision and goals are poorly communicated resulting in doubt and uncertainty among the rank and file.
* During the past five years the Fire Chief overrode more than half of the Fire Department's training academy instructors' recommendations to fail underperforming recruits more than half of the time.
When Jim Hahn was mayor, Chick often complained that her audits were ignored. But today, Mayor Villaraigosa'sa office followed with a statement reading in part:
The audit findings shine a much-needed public light on the internal structures of this important department. The audit details many issues I have discussed with the fire chief over the past six months as part of an ongoing review of the department, his performance and management goals and objectives. I will continue those discussions.
My concern over these longstanding, unresolved issues is surpassed only by my determination that they be fully addressed by the Fire Commission. I appointed a very strong, independent and diverse group of commissioners understanding that the Fire Department was undergoing multiple reviews. I have asked the Fire Commission to develop a plan over the next ninety days to thoroughly address the audit recommendations.
Fire Chief William Bamattre followed with his own statement generally accepting the criticism: "I am very proud of the public safety service that the LAFD provides, however, I will not be satisfied until the Fire Department excels in all its responsibilities."
Also: Video of an LAFD truck company in action, to "Ring of Fire" by Social Distortion.