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Los Angeles Fire Department not meeting response time standard

March 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles Fire Department is falling short of national standards for response times.

Los Angeles Fire Chief Brian Cummings and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa admit the fire department isn't meeting national goals for responding to emergencies, but they insist residents are safe and are getting help when they need it.

The National Fire Protection Association's guideline suggests a five-minute response, 90 percent of the time. In Los Angeles, firefighters respond in five minutes, 60 percent of the time. Twenty of the city's fire stations have been closed and fewer firefighters have been hired.

"April, 1 we're going to move some companies around so that we have our units closer to where that call load is so we can bring down those response times and address some of the issues," said Cummings in a news conference Tuesday.

At the news conference was Pat McOsker, president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City. McOsker wrote a letter saying the city's residents have been "unnecessarily and dishonestly put in danger."

"That added danger continues hour by hour until those selected and elected take action to end it," he said. "Full fire and emergency medical staffing must be restored immediately."

Villaraigosa angrily called the union leader's letter outrageous.

"This is an irresponsible letter and it frankly reflects a lack of leadership," the mayor said.

McOsker, however, said figures back his position.

"The numbers now prove we are only getting there on scene in time to save someone's life about 60 percent of the time now," he said. "That is not adequate."

The chief insists residents are protected.

"When you call us, we are there, we are ready to respond, we're going to come and we're going to fix the problem," Cummings said.

The next move is for the Los Angeles city controller to conduct an audit of the response time. Then they are going to be asking for a new 911 system for the city. The mayor and responders consider the current system antiquated.