The City of Mountain View Fire Department (MVFD) has the highest percentage of female firefighters at 10% in the Santa Clara County region. That is among the findings of the 2019-20 Civil Grand Jury of Santa Clara report, “Why Aren’t There More Female Firefighters in Santa Clara County?” The Civil Grand Jury report cites the National Report Card of Women in Firefighting, which recommends that women should comprise 17% of the first responders’ work force.
The City of Mountain View has been proactive in its efforts to employ firefighters who reflect the makeup of the community. In fact, a few years ago, the City initiated a MVFD female recruitment program that resulted in more women being hired as firefighters. The MVFD also provides uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE) that are made specifically for women and fitted for their sizes.
“Since my arrival here in Mountain View in 2014, we have been actively recruiting women firefighters with moderate success. However, 10% is not enough,’ said Fire Chief Juan Diaz. “We have also improved our work environment and facilities that are inclusive to women. Clearly the Civil Grand Jury report points out areas that we could do better. I will continue to work actively to recruit and promote women into our department as well as improve our fire stations and work environments to have an effective diverse emergency response workforce representative of the community we serve.”
The MVFD continues to adapt its workplace environment to improve gender inclusivity including having private cubicles and/or private dorms at its five fire stations. In 2018, MVFD established policies for fire stations bathrooms and formed a privacy committee to address the privacy of members while on duty. As part of strategic planning, MVFD is exploring ways to encourage more women to pursue a firefighting career as well as advance the promotion of women in the fire service.
Through the City organization, the MVFD provides training and follows City policies that support a gender-inclusive workplace. The City has explicit policy against workplace harassment and discrimination with specific reporting procedures in place. All City employees including all MVFD firefighters are regularly trained on these policies in compliance with applicable laws.
The City appreciates the Civil Grand Jury’s efforts on this important issue and will carefully review their report and provide a response in accordance with the Civil Grand Jury process and timelines. The Civil Grand Jury surveyed nine area fire departments about the recruitment and hiring of female firefighters with MVFD being among the four departments that were chosen to geographically represent the county.