When questioned by the Los Angeles Times, department leaders said they used figures that made it appear that firefighters were arriving at the scene of emergencies faster than they actually were. The numbers are based on responses within five minutes of the initial call.
Relying on LAFD reports, mayoral candidate Austin Beutner said that in 2008 the department responded to medical emergencies within five minutes 86 percent of the time. He blamed budget cuts for a decline in that figure to 59 percent last year.
But the department admitted a former statistician wrongly counted all responses within six minutes, which improved the record.
The numbers controversy comes as the LAFD is facing increased scrutiny over how budget reductions have affected service. Fire Department spending has been reduced more than 15 percent in recent years, and about a quarter of the city's 106 fire stations have eliminated staffing for fire trucks or ambulances, according to the Times.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.