Firestorm: LA to shut 18 Fire Engine Crews

Thursday, May 26, 2011

LA to shut 18 Fire Engine Crews

Los Angeles City Council voted last week to shut down 18 fire engine crews in an effort to help rein in the city's massive deficit.

This is the latest in a steady erosion of the LAFD's budget and services. According to an Op-Ed by Jim Newton of the LA Times, the LAFD's "modified coverage plan" already means that "one out of three Fire Department divisions is always closed, as are two of its 16 battalions; half a dozen ambulances are out of commission at all times. Firefighters rotate through the city to cover for unstaffed areas. The result: Firefighters are often working in communities they don't know, confronting dangers they have not been trained to address."

The LAFD has been tasked with cutting its budget by 30% from 2009 levels, which is a hefty bite to take out of any public safety service. To comply, the LAFD has devised a "New Deployment Plan," which promises no fire stations will be closed and there will be no decline in service. How they can achieve that, given the rolling brownouts and a hiring freeze, is baffling.

Most of the press we've seen concentrates on the fire hazards of a reduced fire service. Considering that the majority of what LAFD does now is medical, when are we going to acknowledge the health care risks?

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