The following are remarks offered by Los Angeles Fire Chief William Bamattre to members of the community and media who gathered today at the LAFD's soon-to-debut Training Facility in Panorama City.
"I want to welcome all of you to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s (LAFD) new Training Facility, which will greet its first Recruit training Class in January. I chose this location for today’s message because it represents much more than just a Training Facility. It is a physical statement about my vision as Fire Chief and stands in testimony to the progress, direction and accomplishments of the LAFD during my tenure.
New recruits will be introduced to the various aspects and responsibilities of Firefighters with realistic simulated scenarios in a controlled training environment providing for the safety of recruits and training staff. Firefighter safety is the highest priority in our training and response.
This facility is designed, benefiting from three major reviews and improvements of Recruit Training over the last ten years. It incorporates gender facilities, expandable to meet the training needs of recruits and staff. There are multiple lecture rooms and protected environments for practical “hands-on” training. By design, there is an active Fire Station to introduce the new recruits to the three distinct work environments of a Firefighter:
- Conventional supervisor/employee/peer relationship.
- Life-threatening Emergency response to Fires, Medical Emergencies, and other life safety threats
- The social environment presented by a 24-hour shift. Where Firefighters must learn to live together with respect for individual differences.
ALL RISK MANAGEMENT
All types of training can be provided here: Hazardous-Materials, Fire Prevention, Public Education, USAR and Confined Space Rescue, Apparatus Maintenance, Terrorism Awareness and Response, etc.
REGIONAL COLLABORATION AND INTEROPERABILITY
Collaborative training will be facilitated for multiple agencies within the City and region as we all deal with the challenge of meeting dynamic Public Safety needs.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH/DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Emergency Preparedness; our CERT Program (Community Emergency Response Teams); and our Volunteer Programs will benefit from this facility by attracting new members and maintaining skill sets. This facility embodies our newest initiative to create Disaster Management Districts able to provide sustaining food and shelter for up to seven days for any type of emergency requiring evacuation.
This facility is one of multiple capital improvements in place to address the current and future expanding needs of Public Safety.
The primary “Measure of Effectiveness” that I implemented for the LAFD is our Response Time. Our Response Goal – measured from the receipt of the 911 call to arrival of the first resource – is to 5 minutes. This shall be achieved 90% of the time. With the completion of the new dispatch “Command and Control” center in 2008 the LAFD will achieve this goal.
This morning I submitted a letter to the Mayor informing him of my retirement. I will step down as Fire Chief on January 1, 2007.
This was a difficult decision. As Fire Chief, my actions have always been guided by three tenets:
- What’s best for Public Safety
- What’s best for Firefighter Safety
- What’s best for the Department
Current Fire Department issues have received wide spread media attention and have disproportionately required the attention of both the Mayor and Council. It has also begun to adversely impact the ability of the LAFD to appropriately address other import issues and initiatives. As Fire Chief, I accept the accountability and responsibility to manage whatever issues that the Department must deal with. I remain resolute and confident in my ability to meet the challenges presented by these issues. As Fire Chief for the past 11 years, I will stand on the merits of my record and am proud of the Department’s accomplishments under my leadership.
However, I have always placed the interest of the Department above my own personal interest. I am also a political realist. Over the past few days, I have come to the appreciation that these current issues have political implications beyond the scope of the Fire Department. I have become the focus of the debate and that is to the detriment of the LAFD. I will not allow that to continue. This is my decision and it is the appropriate time. I have spoken with the Mayor, and he is in agreement.
I have a great deal of respect for the Mayor and the Council members. Their individual talents, empathy and leadership are exceptional. Their challenge will be to keep the collective interests of the City of Los Angeles above their own aspirations and political concerns. I am hopeful that they will work together to resolve the difficult issues that lay before them.
In planning for my retirement, I had three objectives:
- Ensure that the initiatives and programs important to my vision for the LAFD were established
- Develop a pool of LAFD candidates from which the Mayor could select my successor
- Ensure a smooth transition
I am confident that I have achieved the first two objectives. The smooth transition may take a little more work!
In dealing with these current issues, I came across the first communication that I sent out to all LAFD members when I was appointed Fire Chief in 1995. I would like to read to you the last part of that communications I believe it applies now as it did eleven years ago.
It is important that the critical tenets of my philosophy are clear to all members. Therefore, they are reiterated to avoid any misunderstanding.
- Firefighter safety remains my top priority and enhanced training with state-of-the-art equipment will ensure that firefighter safety is maintained.
- The LAFD must reflect the diversity of the community it serves in order to be successful in its mission.
- Input from all members and suggestions to improve efficiency and effectiveness are encouraged and welcomed.
- Department members are free to participate in the organizations of their choice.
- Every individual is entitled to respect and equitable treatment.
- Discrimination and/or harassment of any type (ethnic, gender, rank, etc.), whether overt, subtle, or unintentional WILL NOT be tolerated.
- I am committed to supporting human relations training that will improve the development of interpersonal skills creating a better work environment for all.
- Resource configuration must be flexible to respond to the needs of a dynamic emergency environment.
- Individual Commitment is not enough; collectively the membership must contribute their initiative and energy to inspire the innovations that will influence the direction of this department in the years ahead.
- All members must take a genuine interest in the community they serve.
- Management and labor can and should work cooperatively and productively to achieve common goals.
During this period of transition, I am asking for your support and personal commitment. The support I seek is not for me personally, but rather for the future of our Department. Throughout its history, the members of this Department have prevailed despite many challenges. Reaffirming our collective unity in commitment and purpose, the LAFD can transform adversity into opportunity.
The strength and values of the Fire Department are found in the exceptional people that work for the LAFD. They have distinguished themselves for over 120 years and they will continue to do so in the future."
Submitted by Ron Myers, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department
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