Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA City Council votes to restore LAFD to full staffing

Los Angeles Fire Department Engine

Courtesy Los Angeles Fire Department

The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 to give the LAFD the funding it needs to staff 11 ambulances without removing personnel from fire engines. The $1.56 million will keep the plan afloat through June 30.

Following concerns that a newly-implemented plan that moved 22 firefighters to ambulance duty would jeopardize public safety, the L.A. City Council voted Tuesday to give the Los Angeles Fire Department an additional $1.56 million for the next two months. 

Fire Chief Brian Cummings launched a plan Sunday that deployed 11 additional ambulances in the city. But, council members and the firefighters' union expressed concern that removing 22 firefighters from engines to staff those ambulances could hinder LAFD when it comes to putting out fires.

The money will keep the ambulances in service and the engines fully staffed through June 30, which is the end of the fiscal year. 

Council President Herb Wesson backed the supplemental funding, even though it will cost $13 million to maintain the proposal in 2013-14. The council president said he wants the next mayor to have the flexibility to work with the fire chief on the plan. 

"I personally think it's a problem if we do not allow a manager to manage," Wesson said. "I think that is a real slippery slope and one that we don't want to go down." 

The fire chief told the council his ambulance plan would only impact 22 of the department's 953 firefighters. He also noted that 85 percent of the 911 calls received by LAFD are for a medical emergency — not a fire. 

"870 times a day, [the city gets] emergency medical services calls. Less than 15 times a day [we get] fire calls," Cummings said.  "You tell the community what they need — they need ambulances." 

The $1.56 million will come from the Budget Stabilization Fund, which differs from a reserve account in that taking money out will not have an impact on the city's credit rating. 

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