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Fire Dept. Brass Explains the New LAFD Deployment Plan

VIDEO UPDATE: Some Chatsworth and Porter Ranch residents fear cuts in emergency services, longer LAFD response times.

  • Several videos are attached to this story on the right.

Some tempers flared as Los Angeles Fire Department officials tried to explain proposed cuts in emergency services at a town hall meeting Wednesday evening in Porter Ranch.

Discussion of the new deployment plan, forced by city budget cuts, brought out about 200 Chatsworth and Porter Ranch residents as well as off-duty firefighters, who filled a double classroom at Shepherd of the Hills Church.

The Fire Department is looking to shave $54 million off its 2011-12 budget and about $232 million over the next three years.

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Cummings and Battalion Chief Trevor Richmond presented the 2011 Deployment Plan. Neither Fire Chief Millage Peaks nor Councilman Greig Smith attended the meeting.

Councilman-elect Mitch Englander, currently chief of staff for the retiring Smith, attempted to calm angry residents and disgruntled firefighters who claimed superiors want to stifle their comments at the microphone during the question-and-answer session. Englander is a reserve police officer and supporter of firefighters.

Firefighters have been attending neighborhood meetings, trying to allay misconceptions about the proposed deployment plan.

Thomas Johnson, president of the Northridge West Neighborhood Council, seemed to sum up the feelings of many in the room when he said, “In a time of an emergency, we need you, and I don’t feel like you’ll be there.”

The Fire Department representatives laid out the proposed 2011 Deployment Plan, which would go into effect July 1 after the City Council approves next year’s budget.

The proposed deployment plan decreases the number of fire trucks, engines and manned ambulances and reshuffles personnel, which has led to concerns over cuts to emergency services and potentially longer LAFD response times.

But fire officials on Wednesday called the plan fluid and subject to adjustment, if necessary.

They quickly flipped through a series of PowerPoint slides and described the plan, using Fire Department jargon to the befuddlement of many in the room, before opening the microphone for questions.

The city is facing a $336-million budget deficit as reported by the City Administrative Office at the city's Budget and Finance Committee meeting earlier this week.

Under the proposed deployment plan for firefighters, paramedics and EMTs, no jobs would be lost or stations closed.

Cummings and Richmond told those assembled that the proposed deployment plan would bring stability to the Chatsworth and Porter Ranch fire stations, solving a staffing problem under the department’s current Modified Coverage Plan.

Clara Woll, a member of the Public Safety and Transportation Committee of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council, said city officials shouldn’t touch fire and police budgets; rather they should cut the budgets of less important services, she said.

“Chatsworth and Porter Ranch are the first in a line of defense against wildfires,” Woll said following the meeting. “If wildfires aren’t stopped here, they can burn all the way to the beach."

Fire officials said the plan can change to respond to emergency needs when and where necessary.

Cummings said the plan is fully supported by Fire Chief Peaks, who, he added, is concerned about the well-being and safety of the more than 4 million Los Angeles residents.

“This is the chief’s plan,” Cummings said.

Eighty-three percent of the Fire Department emergencies reportedly are for medical services.

Chatsworth Station 96 could lose one engine truck carrying four firefighters. What could remain is one hook-and-ladder.

The hook-and-ladder truck carries the "Jaws of Life," apparatus used to extricate car crash victims trapped in vehicles. Saws, tools, ladders and other heavy equipment used in earthquake and other rescue situations are also aboard.

Porter Ranch Station 8 will be losing an ambulance with a dedicated driver and paramedic assigned to it. It will be replaced with an unmanned unit with no team to take it out on calls. As a result the station will be down two employees.

Fire Station 28 is losing an "assessment light force," meaning a fire truck, an engine and a paramedic. Instead, Station 28 will have an assessment engine, which includes a paramedic. That translates to the net loss of two firefighters.

Many firefighters and residents say they feel the San Fernando Valley is taking the brunt of the cuts.

Porter Ranch Neighborhood Councilwoman Becky Leveque, a staunch supporter of police and fire services, described Porter Ranch as a unique area that includes the ongoing building of homes, a new school under construction, and a natural-gas storage area beneath the foothills to the north.

“We should be very concerned about what resources we have, should we have an emergency,” Leveque said.

Leveque said she understands the Valley has to take a budget “hit," but its residents don't want to "take a bigger hit than anywhere else in the city.”

Click here to review the Fire Department’s proposed 2011 Deployment Plan.

barbwyr May 17, 2011 at 08:31 AM
The gloom and doomers also leave out that when fire season hits they can gear up every station needed fully to meet the demand. But those who want you to think that your grandmother can't get services when she calls 911 will never tell you everything. Like the fact they are moving ambulances from some stations into those that are losing equipment to make up for the loses since medical emergencies make up for 85+ percent of the calls fire equipment rolls on.
Dan L. Huffman May 17, 2011 at 03:09 PM
I sincerely hope that when " they gear up every station to fully meet the demand " that they don't use the same pattern or formula as " they " do for LAPD. Seven policeman on duty at night at Devonshire ( that is IF they have not been diverted to Dodger Stadium or Staples ) ....four of the seven officers or more are tied up at Van Nuys Jail booking suspects that they've busted for stealing chewing gum, for five hours, as the jail at the station and the jailer ( that are empty and unused, does this sound familiar ? ) have been elinimated due to other " budget cuts" of long past, leaving the streets with little to no police service. One, two, three hours response time. To me, it means or equates down to that ambulance service will be without question delayed, period ( that is what " cuts" means isn't it ? ) and after someones house is burned to the ground, the City will come out after the fact and write a report. Now thats service !
barbwyr May 18, 2011 at 08:05 AM
If you read my entire reply, part of their redeployment plan is to move ambulances from the stations that lose units to cover the medical calls so the trucks can still roll on fires. This CAN'T happen right now, because under the current deployment many ladder trucks HAVE to roll out on simple medical calls which is 85 % of the calls. With the new plan you would GAIN resources, but people are blinded to that by those who only see empty trucks. As for gearing up LAPD vs LAFD for fire season..that 2 completely different animals. You can't compare apples and oranges. When you put bodies back in the stations at fire season they are their to cover fires. They obviously aren't tied up on booking arsonist or aressting match thieves they are deploying to high risk areas or simply waiting for fires to break. Additionally even more units can be manned in short order because the trucks are fully rigged and ready in the stations. People keep talking about closures when in fact NO STATIONS are closing they are simply making some stations light forces instead of task forces meaning instead of being able to respond to 2 calls at once they can only respond to 1 and another unit has to roll up to fill and if an ambulance can roll on a medical call then the truck can stay and roll on a fire meaning with the new plan we GAIN resources.
barbwyr May 18, 2011 at 08:06 AM
Sorry I meant move Ambulances into the stations that have lost units.
Valley Resident May 19, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Just so people know, they are putting one paramedic on an Engine so it will stop the paramedic clock and it will LOOK better for the computer program. Legally one paramedic can not do as much as two paramedics can. Just dont want people to have a false sense of security.

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