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City Fire response-time report due Tuesday

November 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
It's a matter of life and death: Is the Los Angeles Fire Department getting to the scene of serious emergencies fast enough? Two city council members are demanding action to improve response times.

When you call 911, what is the response time for L.A. City Fire? As it turns out, the department's own data isn't always accurate.

"We've been hearing it's garbage-in/garbage-out. The data has been wrong from day one," said L.A. City Councilman Mitch Englander.

In March the department admitted some of the data made it appear that crews responded to medical emergencies faster than they actually did. According to a new report there were problems with the reporting system.

"One of the things that we found in going through the computer-aided dispatch data, which wasn't really designed to generate data for this type of analysis, what we found was some of that information was not as accurate as it could be," said LAFD Deputy Chief Mario Rueda.

Mitch Englander is the chair of the Public Safety Committee.

"If the data has been wrong, you can't fix what you can't measure. And so it's got to be measured. It's got to be transparent. It's got to be accurate and measurable," said Englander.

Several city council members say the department is taking too long to address this issue. They want a plan to improve response times.

"We should have had this information two years ago. And while it's good to find out these numbers, they sold us a whole bunch of other numbers saying that response time would be going down, when it didn't, in fact. And in many communities we saw it creep up," said L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti.

"There's really no magic about response times. If you happen to live a long distance from a fire station, it's going to take us a while to get there, a little bit longer. It's something we factor into our deployment," said Rueda.

The new report will be officially released and discussed at the next Fire Commission meeting on Tuesday.

The new report will be officially released and analyzed at the Fire Commission meeting on Tuesday.


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