By City News Service
The highest-ranking woman in the history of the Los Angeles Fire Department is retiring, leaving the department without any women in the ranks of its top command.
Deputy Chief Roxanne V. Bercik, 55, has been a leading advocate for recruiting and promoting female firefighters, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"I've been the voice at the command level that diversity is important in the organization," the 29-year department veteran told the newspaper.
Her announcement came as the first class of fire department recruits in five years was released, showing only one woman among 70 new recruits vying to join a department that is more white and less Latino and black than the city it represents.
Mayor Eric Garcetti told City News Service Tuesday afternoon he "wasn't satisfied with the numbers that we saw with the new recruit class."
"We need to do a better job of ensuring that a representative group of firefighter recruits is in each class," he said.
Garcetti said he expects the void left by Bercik's departure to be filled within existing fire personnel.
"There are some tremendous women who are at the captain level who would absolutely be in command staff," he said.
Bercik said her retirement was not related to news of the new class of recruits at the department, which has never had a female fire chief.
No one from the department was immediately available to comment on the situation.