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LAFD September response time probed in report

November 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A report presented Tuesday to the Fire Commission indicates that the Los Angeles Fire Department's response time last September was longer than the national standard.

According to the report, the average response time was about 6 minutes and 47 seconds. The national standard is 6 minutes.

Fire Chief Brian Cummings told fire commissioners he's investigating the critical report and promised his department will do better in answering emergency calls.

The Fire Department has admitted that for years some of the data recorded made it appear that crews responded to medical emergencies faster than they actually did.

"It wasn't designed 30 years ago to capture and record response-time data, and because of that as they went back and looked at how that data was captured and recorded, they found errors," Cummings said.

The department used that flawed data to decide where to deploy personnel and where to cut back. Critics said that sometimes lead to problems.

"For years and years, L.A. Fire Department management have not been accurately reporting response times," said Pat McOsker, union president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City. "We believe that they've been manipulating the story to make the case - if you can believe this - for budget cuts."

Cummings said the reality is that in some harder-to-reach areas, such as mountains, canyons and the sprawling San Fernando Valley, response times will be longer due to the proximity to fire stations.

"Does the city of Los Angeles want to spend $20 million to build more fire stations to reduce the response times?" asked Fire Commissioner Genetha Hudley-Hayes.

Fire officials said they hope to use the data in the report to be able to adequately staff fire stations.


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