Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA City Council confirms new members to Board of Fire Commission

Los Angeles Fire Department Engine

Courtesy Los Angeles Fire Department

Four new members were confirmed to the Board of Fire Commissioners Friday. The Los Angeles Fire Department is facing a number of challenges, including the allocation of resources, response times, and reliability of the 911 system.

The Los Angeles City Council confirmed four new members to the Board of Fire Commission Friday, including Mayor Eric Garcetti's former physician. 

Dr. Jimmy Hara of Kaiser Permanente, attorney Delia Ibarra, retired teacher Jimmie Woods-Gray and Andrew Glazier of CityYear will join incumbent commissioner Steve Fazio on the panel. The Fire Commission is the civilian panel that oversees policy for the Los Angeles Fire Department. 

The appointments come at a time when the department is under scrutiny for how it uses its resources and how quickly personnel respond to emergencies. The reliability of the city's 911 system has also been called into question. 

LAFD Chief Brian Cummings, a 32-year veteran of the department, is among the executive-level managers whose performance is being reviewed by the mayor's office as part of his transition into office.

During her confirmation, Woods-Gray told the city council that public safety impacts all aspects of L.A. life, including economic development, "because when businesses look at our city, they want to know if it's a safe place to be. So the fire and police departments and men and women in those departments are very important."

The 911 system failed five times in July, according to the Los Angeles Times. LAFD is also facing questions about how it allocates its resources between fire emergencies and medical emergencies, which make up the vast majority of 911 calls. With that in mind, the mayor appointed a physician to the panel. 

"I was actually called by my former patient, Mayor Eric Garcetti, who asked me to serve on the fire commission because he wanted someone who had medical knowledge," Hara said. 

Former Fire Commissioner Alan Skobin will remain in City Hall as a special advisor to the mayor on LAFD's technological issues. 

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