The Montebello City Council has approved a new policy that bars the city Fire Department from hiring smokers.
The City Council voted unanimously earlier this week to direct the city attorney to draft a resolution to implement the policy, which is similar to ones adopted by several Southern California cities, including Downey, officials said.
The objective of the policy is to prevent firefighters from breathing smoke in addition to what they are exposed to on the job, and to protect the city against disability claims for smoking-related illness, Montebello Fire Chief Robert King said.
"If we hire a person who is a smoker and they claim they are injured because of smoke (on the job), it could be because they're a smoker," he said.
The policy will affect only new hires and not the "five or six" smokers already on the 55-member force, King said.