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|Last Updated: Monday, November 05, 2012|
LAFD Provides Additional Information Regarding 911 Response Times
The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) is currently being asked: have response times gotten worse since the budget was cut a few years ago?
It's a question being posed to fire departments across the country that are all having to do more with less. The LAFD is no different.
The Fire Department's budget has been cut by nearly $80 million over the past three fiscal years. To adapt to these cuts the LAFD has used various iterations of deployment and coverage plans that have saved the Department millions of dollars while continuing to ensure the high level of protection and emergency response the public deserves and expects.
The LAFD responds daily to over 1,000 calls across 469 square miles. As calls for emergency medical services continue to increase, the LAFD uses response times to the most critical medical calls as a benchmark. A recent review of data under the newest Deployment Plan shows, as predicted, response time did increase, but the overall impact is minimal.
In fiscal year 2008-2009, prior to any budget cuts, LAFD arrived on scene to an advanced life support call in an average time of four minutes 41 seconds. Under our new plan, the average time is just four seconds longer, four minutes 45 seconds.
The reasons for the increase in response times are based on facts, not false information as some would assert. The City of Los Angeles has seen a 3% increase in the number of Emergency Medical Service calls, while daily staffing has been reduced by 12%, fire companies have been reduced by 12%, and Basic Life Support ambulances have been reduced 17%.
In March of 2011, as part of the budget process, the LAFD submitted a three year Deployment Plan to the Fire Commission and City Government.
This plan focused resources to the areas where they are most needed as a way to save money while still maintaining response times recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and jobs. The plan allowed the LAFD to end disruptive rotational closures of 22 fire companies and six Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances.
The Fire Chief at the time, Millage Peaks, explained the Deployment Plan using new software. The software program projects the impact of redeploying firefighting resources. Using dispatch data, the computer modeled possible deployment solutions based on response times, call frequency, and incident types within each fire station district.
Since it is impossible to predict the number of fire companies that will be called on to respond to a emergency incident at any given period in time, the computer calculated as if ALL the city's fire companies were in service and available; a best case scenario. The software generated projections only, not actual response times.
Adding to the complexity, in 2009 the LAFD transitioned to a new method of calculating response times and performance. Under the old method, the Fire Department calculated response as 59 seconds for dispatch time and arrival on scene in less than five minutes, for a total of 5 minutes 59 seconds. The current method, aligned with NFPA recommendations, aims for less than five minutes.
When responding to a structure fire, the NFPA allows firefighters an extra 20 seconds in which to don their gear, providing a guideline of five minutes and 20 seconds to reach the scene. Recent data show the LAFD arrives on scene on average in three minutes and 55 seconds; only two seconds slower than units arrived prior to the new Deployment Plan. The Los Angeles Fire Department monitors its response times on a daily basis and makes changes as necessary to meet demand in different areas when calls for service increase. The Department has not misled the public or city leaders and in fact has been transparent in its efforts to provide accurate response time information. I welcome anyone to review our data and compare us with other departments across the region and country.
I am extremely proud of the Los Angeles Fire Department and the level of service the men and women provide in keeping our city safe. - Brian L. Cummings, Fire Chief
BFC 11-169 November 30, 2011 Deployment Plan Analysis and Report http://www.ci.la.ca.us/lafd/reports.htm
BFC 11-048 April 28, 2011 Revised Proposed Budget Fiscal Year 2011-12 LAFD Deployment Plan http://www.ci.la.ca.us/lafd/reports.htm
Author:Erik Scott - PIO - LAFD
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