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City council seeks to avoid fire dept. layoffs

May 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
There was a budget battle in the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday over the possible layoffs of firefighters. The council came up with a plan that would avoid cutbacks in fire services.

L.A. City Council members fought to keep fire stations in their districts from being closed.

The L.A. City Fire Department found that 83 percent of its calls are for medical service. Their new plan calls for firefighters, who are also trained paramedics, to be deployed at stations with engines and ambulances so they can do both jobs.

However, there will be fewer daily closures, down from 22 to 18 fires houses a day. There are more than 100 fire stations in L.A. Also, the department will not be reduced by 318 firefighters.

"I am moving today that we restore the 318 firefighter positions that are eliminated in the proposed budget before us, and that we establish a minimum savings target in the fire department's budget to be achieved through negotiations," said L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti.

The council's action Wednesday left the firefighters union somewhat unhappy.

"This baloney about using a computer to tell us where we can afford to give up resources -- we don't buy that one bit," said Pat McOsker, president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City. "We know that we had the city barely covered before."

If the department is willing to negotiate concessions in pension reform, that would save the city nearly $7 million. The city council has indicated to the fire department that money would be used to increase neighborhood fire services.


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