LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles Fire Department personnel who have friends or family seeking a firefighter job are disqualified from participating in the recruitment process, under a policy recently approved by the Board of Fire Commissioners.

The panel adopted a “conflict of interest protocol” that restricts such LAFD employees from getting involved with the hiring of city firefighters when they have, or are perceived to have, a connection to a candidate.

Under the protocol, those taking part in the firefighter selection process must sign a form assuring the city that he or she is not “related to or acquainted with” a firefighter recruit. The employee must also inform the deputy chief of the Training and Support Bureau of the relationship.

A family member is defined in the protocol as a parent, child, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin or grandparent. Relatives through marriage, such as sons-in-law, stepfathers, adoptive siblings, relatives of domestic partners and foster children, also are included under the definition.

The protocol also defines an acquaintance or friend as “anyone with whom you have had personal interaction.”

Anyone who may be “perceived to have a vested interest in selecting or not selecting a particular applicant, or who are unable to maintain objectivity regarding an applicant for any reason,” also would be disqualified under the policy.

Board members said today that despite the protocols restricting who may participate in the selection process, potential candidates with connections to fire personnel are encouraged to apply to become firefighters.

The anti-nepotism policy was adopted after a recent round of recruitment drew criticism.

Of a group of 70 recruits who took part in training earlier this year, 21 have “one or more” relatives in the fire department, according to the department’s watchdog, Sue Stengel.

Some had relatives on the selection team, she said, and those relatives were subsequently were moved to other jobs.

The discovery of possible bias in the hiring process prompted Mayor Eric Garcetti to suspend the recruitment process temporarily.