L.A. mayor taps Kristin Crowley, first woman to lead LAFD, following Terrazas retirement

If approved by the City Council, Crowley, a 25-year veteran of the LAFD, would become the first woman to head the agency in its 135-year history


Josh Cain, Nathaniel Percy
Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will nominate Kristin Crowley as the next chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department, which if approved by the City Council would make her the first woman to head the agency in its 135-year history, he announced on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Crowley, an acting chief deputy, oversees the Administrative Operations Bureau, which takes in various Fire Department divisions. She often represents Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas at city meetings and is to make recommendations to him.

Kristin Crowley has been selected by Mayor Eric Garcetti to lead the Los Angeles Fire Department on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.
Kristin Crowley has been selected by Mayor Eric Garcetti to lead the Los Angeles Fire Department on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (Photo/Irfan Khan via MCT)

“It’s important to recognize this is not just any woman,” said Nury Martinez, president of the Los Angeles City Council during the press conference at the Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center near Dodger Stadium. “She is someone who does not shy away from challenge. She is known by her colleagues and the city as someone who works hard and goes beyond what is expected of her to do.

“She’ll be a problem solver, someone who identifies a problem, identifies a solution and executes a plan,” Martinez said.

Terrazas, the mayor said, is retiring, matching a timeline he offered up when he was hired for the top post in 2014. The chief added that he will step down on March 26, ending a 38-year run with the Fire Department.

In October, a group of women firefighters in the department called for the removal of Terrazas for allegedly ignoring allegations of sexism, harassment and abuse endured by women in the department.

Terrazas “has ignored, downplayed, denied or actively obstructed any investigation into the cultural problems with LAFD,” the coalition said in a letter to the mayor. “It becomes far more insidious when we reach our first assignments as probationary firefighters when we are given the grim choice to silently endure the abuse or give up on the idea of a successful (or any) career.”

The accusations included harassment, including feces allegedly spread around the women’s restroom, male firefighters exposing themselves and saying “this is what a fireman looks like;” racist objects inside the fire station; and racist and sexist comments. and physical violence, according to the letter to Garcetti.

In a statement to City News Service, Terrazas said he met with the coalition on Thursday and “discussed collaborative initiatives to protect and enhance our work environments,” including updating the department’s Disciplinary Penalty Guidelines and providing specific training to improve workplace culture.

Garcetti stood behind Terrazas in his own statement, saying he has “full confidence” in the fire chief.

“Chief Terrazas has done an excellent job leading and rebuilding our Fire Department during some of our toughest days ever and I have full confidence in him,” the mayor said. “He and the entire LAFD leadership know that I have zero tolerance for sexism, racism, or harassment in our firehouses or any other workplace — and I expect them to act with urgency when any allegations of abuse are brought to their attention.

“The experiences that some firefighters have stepped forward to report are sickening and completely unacceptable, and I am working closely with the chief and others in this conversation to accelerate transformative, institutional reforms to bring about the fundamental change we all recognize needs to exist everywhere in this city and in this department,” he said.

In 2014, a unanimous City Council hired Ralph Terrazas, then age 54, to take over as chief. Her had been with the department for 31 years and was the first Latino to become the city’s top firefighter.

A Wilmington native, he grew up in San Pedro and was hired in at $292,424 a year. He became the fifth chief in just seven years.

At the time, he said he was in for “the long haul. … I have given more than 30 years to this department, and my plan all along was to work another seven or eight,” Terrazas said. “That won’t change.”

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