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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.

bernie miller May 12, 2011 at 04:49 PM
I disagree they should not touch the fire and police budgets.. But when I look at the way their "bonuses" play out, such as they receive a bonus for wearing the uniform, then I have an issue... Now take that bonus away and put toward the funding of the fire dept.. There are line items and bonuses and so forth that are not being touched and should never be in the first place...
bernie miller May 12, 2011 at 04:52 PM
Someone other then a city official should review the budget and make the changes.. The city officials have to play the politics card to keep the campaign donors happy... It's politics... You donate to me, I'll give you a free bill... Its all in the game.. Anyway have an outsider look at the budget, make the changes and go from there.. And an outsider who is not friends or family..
Dan L. Huffman May 12, 2011 at 07:54 PM
" This is the Chief's plan" is BS. It is the Mayors Plan as the Police and Fire Dept's are political operatives of the Mayors Office. They agree with him or they are dismissed. This Mayor has completely failed its citizens. He states that L.A. is a " World Class City " when his policies and failures further the City in to Third World status. What BS. The facts are that all new equipment is sent to East L.A. and So. Central where the action is. Chatsworth/Porter Ranch gets the worn out junk. Why ? Because this area, the last stronghold of decent law abiding citizens, don"t have enough shootings, stabbings, car chases, and the like to keep pace with the rest of the City. But under this plan we will, by cutting our services in half, as the numbers will then balance. This is a smokescreen folks, cut where service appears to be leasted needed or reported as the politically skewed City statistics presently show, that we don't need it in the eyes of this City and its minions. Chatsworth/Porter Ranch is being rewarded for its crime fighting efforts, police support, active Neighborhood Councils, Neighborhood Watch Programs and decent neighborhoods by being slashed. We didn't use it, so we lose it. We are being forced, with no voice in the matter, ( impotent Neighborhood Councils ) to accept the failed policies of this City, which simply expedites this area's demise into the crime ridden abyss ( East.LA, North Hollywood, Sylmar, MidTown ) known as the City of Los Angeles ...
Valley Resident May 13, 2011 at 02:00 PM
No fire fighters want to see cuts but when it comes down to permanent closures or continuation of the daily brown out...the majority of FF's want the closures OVER the brown outs. There is no doubt the fire dept and every other city agency can save money but WHY is it always the workers getting the job done making the cuts? How many LAFD special duty spots have been cut? Do we really need fully paid fire fighters and Captains in disaster preparedness? We cant have cheaper civilian positions teaching that stuff? As a tax payer, I want them on my fire truck, not teaching granny how to use a fire extinguisher. Also the union is not happy losing these dues paying spots.
Valley Resident May 13, 2011 at 03:41 PM
The builder was required by the city to buy one truck and two engines for fire station 28, I would think the fire trucks not being used at station 28 that were bought by the builder should be given back to the builder. Fair is fair
Chris Saris May 14, 2011 at 12:15 AM
Even this article is not completely accurate. Not one fire station will close Not one firefighter will lose their job. More than $200 million dollars will be saved over three years. Every fire station will have a minimum of 1 fire suppression resource (Triple Combination Fire Engine) and one Paramedic. No apparatus are being removed from any station and can be put back in service within an hour or so. In the event a fire station empties to respond to an emergency, another fire engine will respond emergency to the empty station. The plan is not perfect. There are always politics in cities large and small, but the reality is - due to fewer homeowners, businesses, etc., there is a greatly reduced level of revenue for the City of Los Angeles. That means reduced services are a reality. The Fire Chief should be recognized for putting his name to a plan that is not confusing, not overly political, and with the best interests of all of us. UFLAC is not being honest in their communications to HOAs and others. It's a shame, but not likely that it represents the majority of firefighters. For every week that no plan is implemented, the need to cut will increase. Expanding the current coverage plan, which sees firefighters shuffled all over the city to places they aren't familiar with is clearly more dangerous than this new deployment plan.
Chris Saris May 14, 2011 at 12:18 AM
The last time I was in your area, I believe I saw a brand new fire station... and brand new fire apparatus. The LAFD does not operate worn out junk. When was the last time you saw a fire engine broken down on the side of the road? If you are unwilling to participate in the greater good for the entire City of Los Angeles, perhaps you might consider moving.
Chris Saris May 14, 2011 at 12:23 AM
Notice the NEW LAFD fire engine in this picture from a wildfire in the valley taken yesterday: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lafd/5714580627/in/photostream/
DAVE OTREMBA May 14, 2011 at 02:14 AM
when the valley had a chance to get away from la. the mayor /// mr washington dc villarigosa came out and scared the voters how bad it would be without city hall ,, were paying for it now .... burbank and glendale dont have these problems why ,, there not dealing with the illegals like we are ,, when there kids get sick they calla ambulance or go to the emergency room any little problem they call ,, downtown wastes lots of money dwp airports on and on but when the illegals have a parade we roll out the red carpet ,, id love to know about our mayors family roots.. pro illegal ,,dont let the cops ask ,,welcome to the third world folks ,, how can the mexicans vote but they do lots of illegals do ,, you cant ask a voter for citizenship papers ,, why not ,,well 58 years in the valley and im done taxed to death overchared ill pass hello texas
DAVE OTREMBA May 14, 2011 at 02:20 AM
just a thought ,, how about raising the retirement age to 62,, 55 is way to young for a physicaly fit guy,, oh and how about lets say 5 days off when your wife has a baby , or does your manjina hurt toooo, you guys do a great job and you are the best but some of the benifits are just whacked out ,, the private sector has none of those benifits ,, no im not a union guy never needed one
Valley Resident May 14, 2011 at 06:05 AM
Sounds good Chris, How about Chiefs drivers and special duty spots? Do 48 Battalion chiefs really need 48 fully paid fire fighters driving them and doing paper work for them?
Chris Saris May 14, 2011 at 10:08 AM
I remember this was an issue last year for some people, notably the firefighter's union leadership, which made me think, "what a waste of taxpayer money." Then, I discovered that the "paperwork" is related to daily hiring (I didn't know that firefighters were actually hired day by day within a nine day period of time) and requires a lot of interaction with all of the fire stations in every battalion. More importantly, I learned that Chief's are participating in a fire or emergency while on the way there, which is not easy when driving, and worse, the complexity of running an emergency is apparently something that requires teamwork. I learned about this from talking with my local fire station and by reading the LAFD website. I saw this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOSqHCTXwIA I also read the Fire Chief's Deployment Plan, which eliminates 30 of those positions, adds an additional EMS Captain to each of the three "Platoons," and splits up the responsibility, based on the need of the area being protected. So, the administration was apparently listening to the union and the City Council. As for "Special Duty" positions, I have no idea about those. But I do know that we have a Fire Chief and a "command staff" for a reason and because I don't know about things like special duty, I need to trust the Chief. It's good to ask questions! I believe old people and firefighters hate change. We need to get past this ans save $$ or there's read trouble ahead.
Dan L. Huffman May 14, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Chris....I see you are a expert on this, The station that you mentioned and the apparatus you speak of were paid for by a private developer, not this City, which adds to the mystery of why or the audacity of how, it could be downsized. Obviously you are impressed by super polished beautiful bright red paint and aluminum which is fine, but it might be better to look at the odometers.....like 250,000 or 300,000 miles before commenting to me directly. As for being broke down, LAFD operates heavy wreckers and utilizes heavy duty OPG's when needed, yes their equipment breaks down. Nevertheless, the town hall was held, the community had their input ( yeah right ) and now we can pay the price in reduced service in our neighborhood because our mayor cannot balance the books...it is shoved down our throats, we have no choice and it is over. I've accepted it. You can give it fancy names, cite your statistics, print out your worldly knowledge but you are still defending service failure. Unwilling to participate for the greater good you say ? Move ? Bite me. Paying more for less is never acceptable especially in life and death services...less service for more people is a further endorsement of Third World status disease which you endorse. Real trouble ahead ? Open your eyes, it surrounds us. I'd love to know where the " greater good " for this City is taking place and how ? By service failure ? The City is bankrupt and our safety is the peas of the shell game , take a hike.....
Valley Resident May 14, 2011 at 06:45 PM
Chris, You sound like a plant for the mayor or maybe Chief. Hmmmm Day to day hiring is done in the station by the captains not the chiefs drivers. The only time staff assistants get involved is to force hire a fire fighter. Captains get paid lots of money and can manage a fire just fine until a chief gets on scene, any chief that try's to run a fire while in route is a fool..kinda hard to place company's when you cant see what's going on. you sound like a shill trying to justify why the chiefs have fully paid fire fighters driving them, and as far as a chief needing help at an incident all we need to do is assign an engine company to help monitor the radios. Do we need 16 battalion chiefs everyday? Time for the chiefs to take a bite of the s hit sandwich, 9 chiefs can get the job done.
Dan L. Huffman May 14, 2011 at 09:18 PM
If the truck in the picture is NEW as stated, then I must be a teenager ( old people and firefighters hate change, or more like we are tired of being ripped off by ineffective politicians ). That truck is FAR from NEW. Matter of fact, the men in the pictures have shovels in hand, digging diversion channels to move the spilled water ( how about the water pumps are leaking ) away from unit to create less mud. The topic is not equipment, but rather management or in this case, the lack thereof, cutting taxpaying ( well some of us ) citizens emergency services past the bone to balance out their leadership failures at the expense of our safety. It is pure and simple. If our areas tax rates were lowered as our police and fire services are cut off , then it would be equitable. but not so. ( greater good theory ) Cut some fat from the top or from the many other idiotic programs in this City, that it so dearly embraces. Some people may very well think riding to the hospital in a wagon or on a burro is the cats meow, but I'd prefer a late model ambulance with trained EMT's with a four minute or less response time for my neighbors and myself, that we greatly pay for. Perhaps its because a majority of constituents served in L.A. arrived from a multitude of various nations, where women for centuries, have had their babies born on the side of a dirt road, that gives the off the appearance that this lowered service level is more than adequate for all ? Hmm ?? Maybe so ? Scary thoughts ?
Valley Resident May 14, 2011 at 09:39 PM
The brand new rigs bought by the builder were sent to south central and older rigs were put at station 28. talk about a poke in the eye.
Valley Resident May 14, 2011 at 09:45 PM
You hit the nail on the head Dan, The squeaky wheel gets the grease...The communities that abuse the 911 system by calling 911 for any little medical condition and then demanding a ride from the red and white taxi will show a higher use of fire resources and wont get as many cuts. The communities that use common sense and drive themselves or their family member to the doctors office for the sore knee or runny nose will not show the need for the same fire coverage. what does this teach us? Call 911 on everything and frequently, you wont lose Fire coverage, be responsible and only call when a REAL emergency..you lose fire coverage.
Chris Saris May 15, 2011 at 12:45 AM
Mr. Huffman: Per your comment above, actually the opposite it true. I am not an expert. I am a person who pays taxes and is concerned about fire and police protection. I have not added anything to the discussion, except to note what I've read, what is available via the Internet, and how I've come to conclude that the "Plan" set forth by the Fire Chief seems like a reasonable and sound solution in unreasonable times. I have also been learning first hand that most of my friends, neighbors and peers are excited about this new Plan from the Mayor's office, but it is firefighters from affected stations and the leadership at UFLAC that are most annoyed. Your sarcasm and veiled attack serve no purpose but to underscore your own role, most likely as a firefighter (using FD language), although I don't know that, nor do I care. It is disappointing that those who have sworn to protect the citizens are the same ones who attack those of us who take the time to ask questions, read, think, and come to our own conclusions. The balancing of the books you refer to, and your related negative comments all ring with a firefighter union tone. If anyone cares to read the reports from the CAO, from the Mayor, from business people, from the Governor, etc., it's clear there is a huge shortfall in revenue. The Mayor has done exactly what you say he hasn't done: balance the budget. The City is not bankrupt by definition or law. This has become a silly series of comments, so I'm done.
Chris Saris May 15, 2011 at 12:54 AM
Perhaps your title should be "Valley Firefighter." We have a right to know if we're been led down the wrong road by politicians and/or by anyone else, including the Fire Chief, the UFLAC President, and firefighters in stations. As noted elsewhere in this cruel series of attacks, it appears those most concerned about the "Plan" from the Mayor's office are members of the firefighter's union. My neighbors and I are simply concerned with appropriate protection in dangerous times. It's unfortunate that you believe my conclusions make me part of City Government. How sad for anyone to go thru life so isolated from facts, figures, and the opportunity to think for one's self.
Valley Resident May 15, 2011 at 01:40 PM
Chris Saris Says. "I have also been learning first hand that most of my friends, neighbors and peers are excited about this new Plan from the Mayor's office," Come on Chris?? You and your neighbors are excited about having less fire and EMS coverage? I'm the first one to admit that every agency in the city can save money, but how about cutting the fluff and fat and NOT the BASICS of the fire department. As far as my title, I've lived in the valley my whole life and I'm here because I am concerned for my family, friends and you who live in the valley. I see the feather bedding that's done in the Dept. and see other non essential spots in the department NOT getting touched. Family comes first..shocking huh? There are better areas to cut over fire trucks and ambulances, thats all I'm sayin.
Dan L. Huffman May 15, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Chris....Obviously we are from two different planets....If I offended you, my apology. You are entitled to your thoughts too. Its seems I'm more in line with Valley Res., so a difference of opinion, makes a horserace. When I buy a gallon of gas, I want a gallon, not a half. When I buy a house, I want a house, not a half of one. Same with emergency services....pretty darn simple. You you say a NEW truck, I take it for a NEW truck, not a shiney old one. From reading your last post, all your assumptions are incorrect, so yes, lets just drop it there ....enjoy your day.....
Valley Resident May 16, 2011 at 11:02 PM
I know losing an Engine or Truck sucks and since they wont take from other areas something has got to give. The rank and file fire fighters would rather have the closures rather than continue the brownouts, to continue the brownouts is just unsafe for the daily training that needs to be done by a fire fighting company.
barbwyr May 17, 2011 at 08:27 AM
I don't want an untrained civiallian teaching disaster preparedness! I want a professional who has been there and DONE THAT who can stand there and put his life's experience into words. You can't teach what you haven't experienced. Having taken a CERT course FROM a trained Fire Fighter I can say his experience is what I believe will make the difference when the time comes and my family is put to the test.
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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