Members of the Los Angeles Civil Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to replace the test the city uses to hire new firefighters, the latest change to a selection process that Mayor Eric Garcetti has struggled to reform in his bid to root out nepotism and diversify the department’s rank and file. The five-person civilian board approved outsourcing the written firefighter exam to Burbank-based PSI Services, which will charge applicants $69 to enter next year’s round of hiring, scheduled to be announced on Friday. Personnel Department officials testified that the private company will deliver a superior computerized test and reduce the burden on city workers who have struggled to manage the massive pool of applicants routinely seeking coveted slots in the Los Angeles Fire Department.
In March of last year, Garcetti halted hiring at LAFD after a series of Times reports prompted him to condemn the city's selection methods as "fatally flawed." Soon after, the mayor retooled the process, vowing to introduce more women and minorities to the ranks of an agency that remains primarily white and overwhelmingly male.
More than a year later, with those reforms showing little progress toward the mayor’s goals, city officials changed the system again Thursday.