LA County moves to get female firefighters uniforms designed specifically for them

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday directed its fire chief and county CEO to develop a plan for procuring and making available women-friendly uniforms and protective equipment for female firefighters and lifeguards.The motion approved unanimously by the board also calls for a letter to be sent to manufacturers and vendors of such uniforms and equipment, urging them to produce and sell products designed specifically for women in the profession. Supervisor Janice Hahn, who introduced the motion along with Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, noted that female firefighters traditionally deal with the problem of wearing equipment that is designed for men. “The women of our L.A. County Fire Department are heroic, and they save lives every day all while dealing with uniforms that don’t fit correctly and restrict their movement,” Hahn said in a statement. “Like so many other women in a male dominated field, they go out of their way not to complain. But this is a real problem and these women need to know that this board has their back — and their hips.” The motion contends that ill-fitting uniforms and gear can leave women firefighters vulnerable to exposure to carcinogens such as smoke, and more likely to suffer injuries due to gear that restricts their movement. “Women on our frontlines deserve to have uniforms and equipment that are suited for the essential, lifesaving work that they perform day in and day out,” Horvath said. “Today’s motion will further ensure that our diverse and exceptional Los Angeles County firefighters are fully prepared and supported in the essential roles they play in our communities.” SUGGESTED: LA County Fire Department equipping all paramedic units with CPR devices The motion calls on county Fire Chief Anthony Marrone to work with the county CEO and the Women’s Fire League to report back in 60 days with a plan to make female-specific equipment and uniforms available. The Los Angeles County Fire Department currently has 82 women firefighters, a relatively low number that has drawn criticism in the past and became a repeated topic of discussion when Marrone was hired as chief. Two female firefighters appeared at the board’s meeting Tuesday to demonstrate the issues they have with their gear, and Hahn herself tried on the gear prior to the meeting, saying it restricts movement. “I echo Supervisor Hahn’s statement that I’ve never once complained about my uniforms, but that doesn’t mean they fit,” Fire Capt. Sheila Kelliher said in a statement. “We are problem-solvers by nature, it’s what we do. Where I have a problem is, now I’m mentoring the next generation of men and women coming through our department, and when I tell a 23-year-old girl, `Eh, just figure it out, just, I don’t know, pull them up, tighten up your suspenders,’ it doesn’t work. We need to do better.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.