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LAFD chief's budget plan to divert firefighters from trucks sparks controversy

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Los Angeles City Fire Department is considering changes that would divert firefighters from trucks and put them in ambulances instead.

But Fire Chief Brian Cummings' plan is taking a lot of heat from members of his own department.

According to the department, since 85 percent of their calls are for medical service, the plan is to take one firefighter off a truck and assign them to a non-emergency ambulance.

At the fire commission meeting Thursday, one of Cummings' assistant chiefs called the plan a big gamble on firefighter and public safety.

"Are we putting our firefighters at greater risk and placing them in a situation where on their own they may be taking additional risks in order to protect life and property because they're insufficiently staffed?" asked Assistant Chief Andy Fox.

According to the city fire department's labor union, Monday's fatal fire in North Hollywood, which killed one resident, could have been much worse if the chief's plan to take one firefighter away from an engine company was in effect.

"He's stealing a critical firefighter off of truck companies to staff, essentially, a non-emergency ambulance. The public deserves to know the risk with the fire chief's unilateral new deployment plan, which by the way, his own chief officers oppose the plan," said Capt. Frank Lima, president of United Firefighters Los Angeles.

Cummings' plan goes into effect next weekend; eleven extra ambulances will be put into service 24 hours a day.

Two weeks after the plan goes into effect, the fire commission will meet to see how this realignment plan is working.

"Two weeks is probably not a large enough data sample to make big decisions about it, but we will constantly be looking at the numbers, we'll make some adjustments on it over the course of the months to come," said Cummings.

The fire commissioners agreed that if the plan isn't working, they'll scrap it and find another way to keep the city safe within the fire departments budget.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
los angeles city fire department, budget, los angeles news, sid garcia
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