The Los Angeles Fire Department said Monday that a law firm contracted by the city attorney’s office is investigating reports that a senior administrative commander was under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on duty.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas received a complaint that Deputy Chief Fred Mathis was intoxicated while on duty at the department’s office at the hotel. of town is as the department battled the Palisades Fire in May. The department is required to deal quickly with employees suspected of being intoxicated, but records and interviews reviewed by The Times showed the complaint about Mathis was not filed for three days.

Deputy Chief Fred Mathis. Credit: LA Fire Department

“The matter has been brought up and is currently being investigated by a law firm under contract with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office,” the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement. communicated to the City News Service. “All appropriate steps are being taken to ensure compliance with the Fire Department’s disciplinary policy. The department will not comment further as the investigation is ongoing.”

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The complaint said Mathis admitted to drinking, according to the Times, and the city’s timekeeping system was retroactively logged to report that Mathis was ill on the day his intoxication was reported.

The Times also reported that two LAFD employees who represent black and Latino firefighters said Mathis received special treatment and non-white employees did not receive the same treatment when accused of being in a state of incapacitation. intoxicated on duty.

Deputy Chief Patrick Butler, president of Los Bomberos, a Latino firefighter organization, wrote to the Los Angeles Fire Commission:

“It’s a total cover-up and a double standard, and the leader is protecting his people,” The Times reported. “We want the standards to be applied consistently across the organization.”

Captain Robert Hawkins, president of a black firefighting group, the Stentorians, said: “Chief Terrazas knew about it and broke policy. It is a lack of responsibility and a lack of integrity. People get special privileges based on their rank and skin color.

The Los Angeles Fire Department declined to comment to the City News Service on the double standard charges, but a spokeswoman told The Times, “Upon notification of the situation, the fire chief immediately directed that appropriate action be taken in accordance [with] service policy, which includes an entry into our complaint tracking system for investigation. »

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