The Los Angeles Fire Department’s $54 million budget shortfall has been the most debated part of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. On Friday it was presented to the Los Angeles City Council before going to a vote this week.
In response to the LAFD budget deficit, a new fire deployment plan calls for the citywide elimination of one division and two battalion offices, 11 engine companies and seven light forces while upgrading 10 fire companies to paramedic companies, according to Capt. Jamie Moore, public information officer for the LAFD.
Fire Engine 69 housed at Fire Station 69 at 15045 Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades is one of the engines targeted for closure. Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the area, complained at the meeting that reduced resources at Station 69 in Pacific Palisades would threaten safety in his district.
“Right now our safety feels threatened in the Palisades; that is why I cannot support the chief’s plan,” Rosendahl said.
Rosendahl told the city council and the fire department representatives that the reason he has taken a strong position against the LAFD 2011-2012 deployment plan is because of the geographical location of Pacific Palisades and the various city construction projects taking place on PCH, the 405 Freeway and Sunset Boulevard that impact traffic in and out of the area.
“With this deployment plan there is 90 engines covering the whole city. We will have 42 trucks, 120 ambulances . . . the people in [Pacific Palisades] aren’t just protected by just what is in 69, they are protected by the whole city,” Assistant LAFD Chief Brian Cummings said to Rosendahl.
“The truth is with the new construction . . . that’s added reality during the day and night that we didn’t have a just a month or two ago, so, it becomes more problematic for us,” Rosendahl said. “I don’t think the timing factor can be resolved . . . you cannot bring a truck up the PCH if they’re going up an incline. You cannot bring one from Sunset if that’s under construction at the same time . . . it’s the timing of it, that’s why the Palisades feels isolated and fearful that it would affect our safety.”
The permanent deployment plan stems from a three to four year analysis in the types of 911-calls and incidences with the use of computer software, which factored in issues like location and frequency. The study was requested by the mayor and the City Council in an effort to reassess and provide services that reflect the needs of the city.
Four fire-fighting trucks and two ambulances will be added to the department’s rotation, although it will not result in the filling of positions after people retire, said Cummings. With results indicating that 83 percent of all calls to the fire department were paramedic-related, the plan concentrates on emergency paramedic response.
"The plan deploys levels of field resources to match the needs within each fire station district,'' Cummings said.
In response to the plan’s effect on the community, many council members did not support it, mostly due to concerns about safety and long-term effects of reductions.
The L.A. City Council will discuss and vote on the proposed budget Wednesday and public comments will no longer be allowed.
To view the LAFD's new deployment plan click here.
Watch Rosendahl’s comments to the L.A. City Council and Assistant LAFD Chief Brian Cummings by clicking the video attached to this article.