The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday unanimously confirmed Kristin Crowley as fire chief, making her the first woman and first out LGBTQ+ person to hold that post.
Mayor Eric Garcetti had nominated Crowley in January. As chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department, she will oversee 3,246 uniformed personnel and 353 professional support workers, the Los Angeles Blade reports. She will begin her duties as chief March 26, when predecessor Ralph Terrazas retires.
Before the vote, Crowley told the council she was “truly honored” as well as “humbled and proud” to be appointed fire chief, according to L.A. TV station KABC. Her confirmation came on the first day of Women’s History Month.
Crowley has been with the department 22 years, having been a firefighter, paramedic, engineer, fire inspector, captain, battalion chief, assistant chief, fire marshal, and deputy chief. She was Los Angeles’s first woman fire marshal, a post she assumed in 2016. When she took the firefighters’ exam in the late 1990s, her score was in the top 50 out of 16,000 applicants.
Crowley and her wife, retired firefighter Hollyn Bullock, received a letter of special commendation from the fire department in 2020 for their work fighting a wildfire in the Malibu Canyon area in 2018. They had planned to simply help a relative evacuate from the neighborhood, but they ended up convincing the other residents of the block to evacuate as well and then stayed 16 hours to keep the flames away from the homes there. They saved nine out of 10 homes on the street.
“Throughout her distinguished career, Kristin Crowley has proven her brilliance, determination, and bravery on the job again and again,” Garcetti said when he announced her nomination. “She’s also shown this city her heart, with her tireless commitment to helping students access life-changing educational opportunities. There is no one better equipped to lead the LAFD at this moment than Kristin. She’s ready to make history, and I’m proud to nominate her as the department’s next chief.”
Her work will include efforts to change the culture of the department, which has been rocked by accusations of racism and sexism. She has pledged to address these problems.
“As the next fire chief, my priorities will be to ensure the LAFD stands ready and remains operationally efficient to serve our communities and this great city; that we enhance and support our firefighters’ safety, health and overall well-being; and that we promote and demand a work environment that is free of harassment, discrimination, and hazing,” she told council members Tuesday.
“Our efforts will be maximized by making sure diversity is celebrated and valued, and that equity and inclusion are intertwined into every policy, procedure, and practice,” she continued.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center celebrated Crowley’s confirmation. “The Center applauds the historic confirmation of Kristin Crowley to lead the fire department of the nation’s second-largest city,” Executive Director Joe Hollendoner said in a press release. “She is the first female fire chief of the LAFD and the first openly LGBTQ person to hold the position. She has dedicated more than two decades — previously as the City’s first female and first LGBTQ Deputy Chief Fire Marshal — to serving our communities and ensuring the safety and well-being of all Los Angeles residents. We cannot imagine a more qualified candidate for the job.”