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Firefighter Exam

March 06, 1994

* This letter is in response to the article "5,000 White Males Barred from Taking L.A. Firefighters Exam," Feb. 26. I am not white. I am not a firefighter. I am not even a labor union sympathizer. I am a Mexican American, and after reading your news article I am outraged to say the least!

What in the world is happening to our elected officials? Where does it say that minorities make better firefighters than whites? Whatever happened to equal opportunity for all? Whatever happened to obtaining a position based on individual merit? If my house ever caught fire, I wouldn't care what the firefighters looked like or how they spoke! All I would ask for is that they be competent in putting the fire out quickly!

I am sick and tired of seeing our elected officials at the local and state level always use the same lame excuse that their hands are tied. This time they are saying that they are mandated by a 1974 agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, to rationalize their action. Baloney!

JESSE LAGUNA

Spring Valley

* In the article the statement, "He wants to become a firefighter so badly but he can't. He's the wrong race," is quoted. How many times have those very words been expressed by a minority mother?

JOSEPH GIL

Pacoima

* Being an Anglo woman, I shudder to think what could happen if the Fire Department's hiring policy also pertained to putting out fires and saving people's lives.

ANN ALEXANDER

Walnut

* I am appalled that Los Angeles is barring white males from its firefighter examination. We need our firefighters to be the best qualified individuals available. A firefighter today needs to be able to understand the treatment of hazardous materials. They need to be able to do the complex hydrodynamic calculations to determine how many, and what sizes of hose lines can be supported. And of course, a firefighter still needs the strength to carry a victim (possibly another firefighter) out of a hazardous area.

I, for one, don't care whether a firefighter is male, female, black, yellow, brown, green, or even white. That doesn't matter. What matters is having the best qualified individuals available in times of emergency. Barring 5,000 individuals from taking the examination is ensuring that our new firefighters will not be the most qualified individuals as our firefighters. This is neither equal opportunity nor fair to the public.

WILLIAM GEORGI

Tujunga

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