In March, the Los Angeles County Fire Department hosted its inaugural ARISE (A Reason to Include and Support Everyone) Summit at the Los Angeles County Fire Museum and Mayne Events Center in the City of Bellflower.
With support from the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, firefighters from the Department and fire agencies across the region attended the event, held on March 28 and 29, 2018.
The theme of the first-ever ARISE Summit was “Women in the Fire Service: Courage to Lead the Way.” It honored the Department’s first female firefighter, Cynthia “Cindy” Barbee, who was hired in 1993 and rose to the rank of Fire Captain. Now retired, Captain Barbee became the first recipient of the Department’s distinguished Trailblazer Award which recognized her courage, commitment, and contributions to empowering women in the fire service.
During the course of two days, the ARISE Summit convened female firefighters with executive leadership where open dialogue was encouraged to create strategies in support of the overall growth of women in the fire service, and to promote equality in the workplace. Attendees also had an opportunity to attend workshops on a myriad of topics, including cultivating leadership skills, living healthfully as a first responder, gender equality, implicit bias, and more.
Focused outcome topics identified at the ARISE Summit include:
1. Accountability of mid-level management which will result in effective cultural change within our agencies;
2. Establishing internal networks and processes for mentoring and growth, resulting in increased leadership within our agencies;
3. Establishing a regional organization representing women in the fire service, resulting in increased collaboration, support, and communication;
4. Discussing ways to improve and create consistency within the hiring process; and,
5. Creating environments welcoming and conducive to parenting for all members.
The Department, along with our fire service peers, is meeting with various subcommittees to identify strategies that will achieve successful outcomes for these important focus areas. By inviting diversity in thoughts, opinions and suggestions, we are already increasing the dialogue between us and will eventually achieve the outcomes we need to accomplish. With our elevated level of commitment and dedication, we will hold ourselves accountable to develop real solutions and make true, measurable progress in each of these areas.
Through the ARISE Summit, we will collaboratively pave a new road toward greater understanding and openness between management, the workforce and potential Department candidates. The Department is profoundly eager to provide a platform where we can openly discuss matters of importance and significance to everyone in the fire service.
Ultimately, we will build stronger bridges and find creative ways to work together and be a catalyst for systemic change—not just at our Department but also regionally. The goal is to cultivate an inviting environment that is diverse and truly mirrors the communities we serve and represent.