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City Council Begins Overhaul of Fire Department

Staffers were urged to come up with maps of proposed firefighting districts, similar to the way the police department is dividing into bureaus, with 21 patrol areas.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter. Patch file photo.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter. Patch file photo.

The Los Angeles City Council today set into motion an overhaul of the fire department, instructing city staffers to study dividing the city into bureaus and revamping its disciplinary process, among other things.

City staffers were directed to pick up where a $500,000 report by PA Consulting left off.

The council, reacting to reports of nepotism and fire officials fudging response times, hired the consultants to help come up with blueprint for reform. Members also suggested hiring outside help to come up with a new system for tracking and reporting response times, which helps guide the deployment of resources and cut overtime costs.

Staffers were instructed work with fire department officials, the Fire Commission and the firefighters union to reassess the department's disciplinary process and recommend improvements.

Staffers were urged to come up with maps of proposed firefighting districts, similar to the way the police department is dividing into bureaus, with 21 patrol areas.

New positions were authorized for a chief technology officer, an executive director, a director fire statistics and a deputy chief.

The executive director would report to the Fire Commission, and the added deputy chief would oversee medical services.     A list of recommendations for the City Council's review is expected by July 1.     The union representing 3,100 sworn fire department employees panned the PA Consulting report earlier this month. In a letter sent to council members, union president Frank Lima called the report "woefully lacking."

PA Consulting did not ask for input from the firefighters union, Lima said, and the report writers did not seem to understand what he called complex public safety issues.

The consultant's report, which said the fire department had a "cultural aversion to change and fear of litigation," recommended giving the fire chief a five-year employment contract and filling about 200 positions with civilian employees.

The report found that chief's job had devolved into a "revolving position, which has destabilized the LAFD."

It also criticized the department for putting people into supervisory positions for which they were unqualified.

As of the disciplinary process, "it is broken, driven by fear of litigation, reprisals and the perception that it is a 'no-win' situation."

The report recommended hiring civilian managers and called for 193 sworn positions to be "civilianized," including the director of employee relations, communications and data analysis, as well as the newly created position of chief technology officer.

Over the past 10-15 years, the Los Angeles Police Department has been replacing sworn officers in desk jobs and other non-policing roles with civilians, the consultant's report noted.

--City News Service


Don May 02, 2014 at 09:22 AM
Unless the City recalls all those recruits that nepotism cheated the system with, the Fire Dept is not being revamped Unless the City fires everyone of those in the command structure that condoned or participated in this theft of the best to the City, the Fire Dept is not being revamped. Why? Otherwise, there is no real accountability and the slap on the wrist means nothing for you still work and draw that nice pension benefit on the Angelinos' dime
Frank Estrada May 02, 2014 at 10:56 AM
The reality is that with the implementation of smoke detectors sprinklers and other new code requirements for structures, there are less and less fire emergencies, yet the amount of money being spent for more Fire recruits and equipment never ceases in our city. All I see is fire trucks going back and forth all day along Ventura blvd with sirens blaring..Entire companies including their hook and ladder being sent to a homeless person call who feels ill on a street somewhere. Then I see the full company having lunch at the Habit, taking up a half square block so they can have a meal out during their 2 day 48 hour shift...I've been to these new fire stations and they are equipped very nicely....Flat screens, video games, kitchens with several sub zeros etc... Heros? yes, but so are our military and 1/3 the pay and benefits..Time to revamp the redundancy and wasteful spending of our LAFD
TrapLoJo May 02, 2014 at 12:59 PM
reports of nepotism? the fire academy got shut down by LA so they can "investigate" the mystery of how hires all seem related. and that academy had minorities lined up so how stupid is this.

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