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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

City Insults Firefighters With Silly Politically Correct Effort


We mentioned this a couple weeks ago but it's finally hit the MSM. The LAFD has implemented a ridiculous policy banning tattoos on firefighters. For those who already have tattoos they have to cover them up with sleeves, collars and/or bandages. This ban not only applies to when they're in public but even when they're alone in the fire station. In fact - and this is incredible - the City has instructed Captains to inspect the firefighters while they are sleeping to make sure the tats are not visible.

Our public safety professionals deserve better than this. Sure, we probably don't want police officers or fire fighters covered in spider webs, tears under their eyes or gang insignias. But what the hell is wrong with Mom on your heart or the logo of your Marine unit?

And it's amazing to consider when we have a Mayor who reportedly never is seen without his shirt off nor wearing short sleeves because he sports gang tattoos from his youth.

The City has far more important issues to address than this politically correct nonsense. We stand with the firefighters and trust that the City will come to a rational position soon.

** UPDATE **

Our friend Brian Humphrey, LAFD Media Rep offers up the following. Brian can't say this but I can - it's his job to tow the company line but being one of them I know he supports the troops. If you want to show support for the firefighters please follow the instructions below:

While the Commanding Officer of our Section, Battalion Chief Ronnie Villanueva, is the designated spokesman on this particular issue, I can say that the Fire Chief and Fire Commission warmly welcome public input on this subject.

City of Los Angeles residents with concerns or suggestions may write via postal mail or fax to:

Fire Chief Douglas Barry
Los Angeles Fire Department
200 N Main St, Room 1800
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Fax: (213) 978-3815

City of Los Angeles
Fire Commission
200 N Main St, Room 1840
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Fax: (213) 978-3814

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

Semper Fi!

June 24, 2008 11:29 AM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

I agree with your assessment. This policy is ridiculous./

This goes too far. Way too far.

I think we need to stop treating our firefighters like criminals and start treating them with more respect.

So when it is extremely hot outside the paramedics have to wear sleeves so that their tats don't show? give me a break.... who the heck comes up with these ideas.

June 24, 2008 1:13 PM  

Blogger LAFD Media and Public Relations said:

Mayor Sam,

Thanks for allowing public discourse on this matter.

While the Commanding Officer of our Section, Battalion Chief Ronnie Villanueva, is the designated spokesman on this particular issue, I can say that the Fire Chief and Fire Commission warmly welcome public input on this subject.

City of Los Angeles residents with concerns or suggestions may write via postal mail or fax to:

Fire Chief Douglas Barry
Los Angeles Fire Department
200 N Main St, Room 1800
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Fax: (213) 978-3815

City of Los Angeles
Fire Commission
200 N Main St, Room
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Fax: (213) 978-3814

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Blog: lafd.org/blog

June 24, 2008 1:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

No, I disagree.

What if a police officer has tattoos related to his stupid teenage years?

Would you trust a cop with a skull & crossbones on the back of his neck? I wouldn't. Lots of people wouldn't.

Let's use an exaggerated situation, like if the cop has a whole arm "sleeve" tattoo. Is that okay? What if he's got lettering across his knuckles?

You all good with that? Or do you want to continue to water down standardization, which is what policing is all about.

What's not being talked about here is whether or not they could achieve a happy medium, such as providing shirts with a longer short-sleeve for those with biceps tattoos.

Having standards is very important to these two fields.

June 24, 2008 1:38 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Gee, who can we have inspect Villaraigosa when he's sleeping, to see if he has tattos?

I'm betting there are hundreds of candidates, but none of them will be doing it more than once - I mean, for more than one night.

June 24, 2008 2:10 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

"I refuse to be rescused by that firefighter - he has offensive TATS!"

June 24, 2008 2:11 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Didn't Tennie Pearce have tattoos?

"Semper Fi-do"

"Leash-Free, or Die"

"Bite 'em All, and Let God Sort 'em Out"

June 24, 2008 2:24 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Mayor Sam, you failed to mentioned that the Mayor had his tattoos removed via laser surgery years ago. Also, they were not gang tattoos, but they were pretty foolish.

June 24, 2008 2:31 PM  

Blogger Mayor Sam said:

This is the typical liberal response to create a one size fits all solution. I think it should be an HR issue; if an individual firefighter has tattoos that are considered offensive they should be counseled by their superior officer and the department should give them alternatives, including removal. Overall the way it's been handled is just silly. Band-aids and watching people while they sleep? Incredible.

June 24, 2008 5:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

How many firemen wear short sleeves while fighting a fire? How hot does it get for them when battling fires during heat waves? What happens to the adhesives they are wearing when in 110 plus heat?

Quite frankly, it seems like this policy could present a danger to the firemen when dealing with extreme conditions during fires.

I understand if an officer is wearing short sleeves and the tattoo is offensive. However, like MS points out, this shouldn't be a one size fits all policy.

June 24, 2008 6:20 PM  

Blogger Mayor Sam said:

Excellent point.

June 24, 2008 6:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

2:11, you are an effing idiot.

Obviously, the person being rescued by a tattooed firefighter isn't going to complain.

This subject is about Department standards; whether such a person would be hired in the first place. The key to a successful police or fire department is uniformity and discipline.

YOU, being a FOOL, split hairs to make a point and say "a-ha!"

But you are such a fool that you didn't even quote something that I wrote. You made it up, fool.

June 24, 2008 6:23 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Off Topic Question:

What happened to Street Hassle?

June 24, 2008 7:11 PM  

Blogger LAFD Media and Public Relations said:

Kindly make the Fire Commission Room 1840. Sorry for the error. -BH-

June 24, 2008 7:38 PM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

This is outright foolishness all the way around.

The fire department is not the police department.

These firefighters for whatever reason they got their tats are not criminals. It is bad enough this city has a hard time recruiting for these types of jobs and then you want to make their work environment difficult for them?

The fire department is not the military . I would love to see fire captains or chiefs or whatever get in the faces of those they oversee and see how long it takes for them to get sued. IN the military this was called mind f****ing , and we want to do this crap to these firefighters. Ridiculous. Good order and discipline in the fire department is not the same as in the military. I am starting to see that they pick on these people because they can't fight back. Well as citizens we can.

IN the military they get away with crossing your boundaries only because it is the military. Our firefighters are not in the military. Good order and discipline is not a good excuse to bring as an argument into this discussion.

Whomever is coming up with ways to constantly mind f***k our firefighters needs to be removed.

IF they want these tats removed I suggest the city pay for their removal.

First it was taking the words skid row off of the sides of firetrucks and now it is about tattoos, what is next ?

I don't think having tats on their bodies detracts from their work.

I can see the argument for the police. That is a different scenario all together.

Messing with the fire department and causing them emotional distress like this , for the majority of those who are honest to goodness hard working men and women is enough.... I pay their salaries as long as I pay taxes and I think it is time we stopped allowing the city to be playing mind games with our fire department personnel.

What about all of those returning after being discharged from the military after Barack Obama downsizes the military after bringing them home from the Middle east? you know they have tats. Will they be able to get a firefighting job because they have tats.


See, now you done gone and riled up godzilla. I am very angry about this issue.

June 24, 2008 8:18 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

dgarzila-While I share your outrage about this new policy, please allow me to make a little bitty correction.

It isn't difficult to recruit firefighters. Many want this job. I have a friend who is hoping to be hired as a firefighter anywhere. There is a website that alerts people to where an opening is. It's quite competitive.

June 24, 2008 8:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

garzila doesn't apparently know that it's VERY easy to recruit firefighter recruits.

it's police who are difficult and successfully train.

nevertheless, it's all about discipline, as one poster already mentioned. my son is a police officer in another city. ask any police officer in any city. discipline and uniformity.

(i think we all know who ms. garzila really is. she will be posting large quantities of text any minute now)

June 24, 2008 9:14 PM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

So, now that means those going after the qualified applicants can just mark off the ones with tats, right?

Sorry , but I ain't buying it. We compete for the best qualified candidates as a city . SO , yes , there may be many coming for this job, but, now we refuse someone with tats?

Those that argue that uniform standards are important fail to realize that the standards I want in my firefighters is the ability to be in the best physical condition they can be in. I want them to be able to have long endurance physically and emotionally in their respective jobs.

The police carry guns so I expect a different sort of standard. Good order and discipline is very important in those ranks and having gang tats isn't a good example for them to display to the community.

But the firefighters need have only one qualification in my opinion and that is to be able to do their jobs , not if they look pretty or have tats .

We want good qualified candidates; then we stop the BS.

I don't think playing mind games with people because you want so called uniformity in all departments is valid. This is not the military. So becauce the military now doesn't want tats , we mess with the fire fighters. It is all pretext because maybe the police department feels the standards are higher for them than the LAFD?

Good Order and discipline in the ranks in the fire department has nothing to do with tats, unless you are looking for ways to discipline people and weed them out of a job if you are downsizing? HMMMMM.....

June 24, 2008 9:34 PM  

Blogger Michael Higby said:

914 is an idiot...

"garzilla" as you call him is dgarzilla AKA Don Garza, Central City East Blogger and LA's Town Crier. NOT who you think it is.

I don't always agree with Don but he does great things for the city. And he's a military veteran so thank him for his service to our country, dum dum.

June 24, 2008 9:45 PM  

Blogger Michael Higby said:


You make some excellent points. Many agencies are competing for LAPD and LAFD personnel thanks to our excellent training. These public safety workers have to put up with a lot of crap from the City so if they can get a job somewhere like in Santa Clarita or Orange County or out of state they'll jump at the chance. And now with this they're going to run even more officers out of town.

June 24, 2008 9:47 PM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

My father was a police officer . MY grandfather was a sheriff and he had spent over 30 years in the military. I was a volunteer firefighter in my youth. Believe me when I tell you I know what firefighters go through and tatoos have nothing to do with their job. SO I know the difference between good order and discipline and what is appropriate and what is not uniformity, but mind games.

I was at all kinds of fire situations in south Texas, from car accidents, to grass fires , to having to crawl through a dark building, full of smoke on my hands and knees looking for people inside. When is anyone going to see your tatoos when you have a suit on , a tank strapped to your back and a face mask, and a helmet. Someone please tell me. I would like to know. I know how heavy those wooden ladders are. I trained on how to lift them. I know what these guys and gals go through. and messing with tats is just plain trivial. NO, we need to understand that there are other issues involved in this PC madness other than Good Order and Discipline , bah blah blah!!!

June 24, 2008 9:48 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Don, then please elaborate what those issues or mind games are. Some of us don't know, and figure that it's about discipline and order. On the surface, that makes sense to me.

Since you've got a history with this, let me/us know. It's important if you can enlighten us.

It'd be a whole lot better than Higby's name calling

June 24, 2008 9:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

My word! I rarely agree with Mayor Sam but this one guy's fascination with him is obscene!

This time I agree with the Mayor. The Godzilla guy is right. This policy goes way too far.

June 24, 2008 9:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The guy who keeps slamming Higby is a blogger who got fired. And no it is not the the homeless mutt or the drunken Catholic.

June 24, 2008 10:41 PM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

Have any of you ever had a conversation with LAPD officers who stay in Los Angeles? Or even firefighters? I have. Many of them stay on not because of the money,but because they love the job. They truly honestly believe that they make a difference everyday.
But if you talk to police officers and firefighters about employment and attrition issues, they will tell you that many of these people are very conservative. What that means is that they have families. And since they either have aspirations of having a family or starting one already, they move on to other municipalities , even though it is a pay cut , because they can live in the same town where their home is, they can afford a home, and also they can spend more time with their families, and the cost of living is less.

Do people really think that the idea of a city pension is really all that matters to those who join the LAPD and Fire Department? We are speaking of retention here, not just hiring. Since we are speaking of attrition to other communities , and someone said it, we have the best training there is and that includes on the job training. SO other departments around the country would love to get their hands on them.

When we begin to play mind games with our LAPD and our firefighters, people who put their lives on the line for us every day, we are basically abusing them. I don't care how much money they get, but they don't need to be abused in such a manner.

In the military when there are down times NCO's basically love to do things in the name of good order and discipline such as rifle inspections . Clean your rifles, fail everyone and clean them again and start over . Etc. It wasn't done out in the fleet much , but in boot camp it was done a lot. It is about trying to test their emotional limits to absurd stress. Your rifle is clean , you know it is , but if the NCO says it isn't and he says to clean it, again you do it. IF you don't you are insubordinate and can be charged. But in the case of boot camp it is about if you are willing to instantly and willingly respond to orders no matter how absurd it was.

Whether the situation here is an issue of mind games as being deliberate, The political correctness of people sitting on the commission who have never done or performed what our firefighters do on a daily basis by going after something as trivial as tattoos is just about one thing; It is about their political aspirations by using the most sacred of our public servants as a way to grandstand to the community. It is an insult and should be insulting to the rest of this city.

Good order and discipline in the fire department ranks is important as far as following directions to those in command , but tatoos are not detrimental to good order and discipline esp if they have had them for years without any problem.

When we allow our politicians to play these types of political games using our firefighters what we are doing is just allowing one of the most precious commodities we have to be classed almost as second class citizens, these people have rights. This is why I am saying that we are playing mind games with them. Mind games are used to make someone break emotionally.

I hope , like Higby said we aren't trying to run the best qualified applicants out of town. Now that the cat is out of the bag, and we know how much overtime some of these people were getting because they are always busy and we are short handed , this might be another reason many stay on. But because of the budget shortfall , we are now trying to reduce overtime , we may wind up losing many of our most qualified first responders.

OK .

If I was a young man , and I knew I could make 100, 000 dollars a year or more in overtime or less? I knew I wanted to leave dodge, right? Well, I stay on as long as I can until I made my mad money and then I move somewhere else.

For those who choose not to do this . We need to stop playing games with them because that could be the tipping point which causes them to leave.

It is good to see that the fireman in the Daily News who is a Marine Corps Veteran leveraged his service to speak up.

I mean, running around a firehouse telling your subordinates to constantly cover up tatoos is playing mind games, inspecting them while they sleep is also offensive and a violation of privacy and outright creepy. And it is a waste of time and our tax payer money Tattoos are not an indication of someone's inability to respond to orders esp in the world of civilians. I would think that getting paid would trump any firefighters wanting to be insubordinate.

So now we make them remove tattoos what is next? DO they all have to be the same height, same color , same sex, same same same.

I don't care how much money my firefighters make. I watch them in skid row at station 9 and all over downtown. I honor them. They are not chidren they are men and womeen.

IN the military, in boot camp , everything you did was wrong no matter how well you did it. That is the essence of mind games, they were to weed out the emotionally weak and teach the rest that their validation came from within and not without. It never really teaches you that no matter how fast you run or are emotionally stable y, you can't outrun a bullet. There was lack of sleep , getting up in the middle of the night just to do push ups and move the racks- beds from one end of the barracks to the other , only to have to wake up an hour later to get on with the rest of the day. It was used to ware you down. IN the Military you have no choice , on the battlefield you have no choice.

Now think about our firefighters who get up all hours of the night and early morning to answer calls , lack of sleep , running to false alarms-mind games.SO these people are constantly experiencing boot camp like days . they are tough physically and emotionally and I know they can handle orders ans stress.

But these are people who can choose to take it or leave it. We as tax payers are the ones at the mercy of recruiting the most qualified candidates. And if we treat our most experienced firefighters like dirt who have to train the newbies , because their tattoos are a problem and they decide to leave , which they might not , considering they have a pension coming. You never know, they just might. You don't know what these guys are thinking. Can you imagine how the rest of those who want to come to LA as firefighters are taking the new if they have tattoos. Can you imagine other departments telling them, "hey , don't go to LA , they won't hire you if you have those tattoos? "

We really need to think about who is making these decisions. They will be replaced but our firefighters will still be there doing their jobs, or maybe not.

Our firefighters are not worthless and don't need to be constantly monitored for tattoos.

My final response on this subject.

June 24, 2008 11:11 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Okay, lets consider the following:

THE LAFD is an emergency service just as the LAPD is. The gun issue does not dictate the LAPD as needing higher standards than the LAFD...Dgarzilla.

The LAFD is requiring all tattos to be covered so nobody can claim they're being singled out. The LAFD has had enough of that problem over the years. One clearly understood rule that applies to everybody, as it should be.

The LAFD wants everyone to be compliant at all hours while on duty because when the alarm sounds, there isn't time to coverup before going out the door, even while sleeping at night.

Everybody is entitled to their opinion on this topic, but let's understand the facts before we rant.

Thank you...I feel so much better now.

June 25, 2008 12:58 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Check out this website about the LAFD:

June 25, 2008 2:13 PM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

As far as I am concerned the rule is about the fact that the powers that be want to look like they can control people who can be compliant instead of not being able to control real gangbangers. It makes them look like they can control something right?

My opinion . You have yours.

Stop picking on the LAFD. They wouldn't have to worry about covering tats on duty in the stations if there was no stupid regulation.

Listen to yourselves.

June 25, 2008 2:46 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

dgarzila...and rant you are:)

It isn't about power at the LAFD Administration. It's about doing whats right. I've known the fire chief for 30 years and have the perspective to say that. He's a good man.

June 25, 2008 2:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

A good man can be a weak leader.

Doug Barry had the support of the rank and file in the beginning.

But now ? ? ?

June 25, 2008 7:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Doug Barry does have the respect of the rank and file, all 3300 of us out of 3500. The other 200 are tattooed.

June 26, 2008 1:40 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

To "anonymous" who said Doug Barry, the Fire Chief, has the respect of 3300 of the 3500 members of the rank and file, and it's the 200 members who have tattoos that don't respect him.

You can speak for yourself - but NOT for the 3499 other members.

ANY Fire Chief who can't control Rueda, Fox and Mack and get them to tow the line, can't hold for the long the respect of the rank and file.

Time will tell.

June 28, 2008 9:39 PM  

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