L.A.'s First Latino Fire Chief Says Top Priority Is To Reform The Department

Ralph Terrazas made history over the weekend when he was unanimously appointed as Los Angeles’ first ever Latino fire chief.

A 31-year department veteran, Terrazas said that his top priority is reforming the department to reflect the city that they protect – by improving emergency response times, restoring department resources and diversifying the workforce.

Terrazas said he will begin work immediately, but he knows results will take time.

“The challenges are significant,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. “I understand that. It’s an exciting and challenging time to be taking the helm and together we will redouble our efforts to transform the LAFD.”

Terrazas, 44, said they will begin work immediately to improve technology that will include a joint computer-aided dispatch system with the Los Angeles Police Department.

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    “This department will be metrics-driven, technology-focused, a community-focused organization that is reflective of the communities that we serve,” he said.

    Part of that will also be reviving a program that emphasizes on hiring more female firefighters. Terrazas said he plans to reach out to colleges and female athletes who are up to the physical aspects of the job.

    "Many of the female captains we have today are a product of the female tutorial program,” he said.

    Mayor Eric Garcetti, who nominated Terrazas to the top spot, said the new chief will bring much needed stability to the department.

    “The days of a revolving-door-chief are over. This is not about having a contract,” he said. “This is about finding the right person for the job.”

    Terrazas, who was raised in Wilmington, Calif., said he is up for the job.

    “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.”

    Councilman Gil Cedillo praised the selection of Terrazas as providing hope to the Latino community.

    “Now, they can look at the department and say, I could one day be fire chief,” Cedillo told the LA Daily News.

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