LAFD to Debut Motorcycle Response Teams as Pilot Program During I-405 Closure

Friday, July 15, 2011 |

Starting tonight, July 15, 2011 through July 18, 2011, the North and Southbound I-405 Freeway and the Mulholland Drive overpass in both directions, will be closed for up to 53 continuous hours. This, due to the demolition of the Mulholland Bridge overpass. The closure may cause widespread and heavy traffic congestion through the Sepulveda Pass and outlying neighborhoods. Consequently, these conditions may impact the response of emergency vehicles into those areas and could have the potential to cause delays in providing medical assistance to residents and passersby.
LAFD Motorcycle Response Team
Our continuous efforts to maintain high standards of service and lower response times, challenge us to be both innovative and consistent. To that end, the LAFD has developed a unique response team for these locations, that will make its debut this weekend. Motorcycle Response Teams ("Motor Teams") will be deployed at two different locations (Fire Stations 99 & 109) to enhance our service to these affected areas. 

Riding Kawasaki  KLR 650 motorcycles (kindly on-loan for the weekend from our friends at Kawasaki Motor Corp.), our Firefighter/EMTs will have the ability to more easily move through traffic enroute to an emergency incident. A two-member team (one team = two motorcycles, each with one Firefighter/EMT) will be strategically placed on both the East and West sides of the I-405 freeway. These teams will also patrol their assigned areas, providing up-to-the-minute intelligence on access and egress issues, as well as continuous monitoring of alternate response routes.

Each Motor Team will be equipped with a cache of Basic Life Support (BLS) equipment, to include an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), oxygen, other essential medical equipment and supplies to handle most medical incidents, until additional assistance arrives. As these motorcycles will be patrolling a largely "brush area," they will also be equipped with "saddle bags" to allow for the stowing of a fire shelter and some brush firefighting personal protective equipment. Each "rider" will also have a GPS unit attached to the motorcycle, a radio and Departmental maps.
LAFD Motorcycle Response Team
Upon an emergency or medical incident, the Motor Team will take appropriate action in managing the incident and rendering basic medical care, as necessary. The Teams offer our response, safe and quick maneuverability, flexibility and the opportunity to render continuous care until a patient is transferred to another LAFD resource for transport. These motorcycles are not equipped with lights or sirens and therefore, will respond with caution. The Motor Teams will be deployed during daylight hours only, from 6:00am - 9:00pm on both Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17.

It should be noted, this is a "pilot program" only and may or may not be continued, based largely on the success of the program over this weekend. Future use of the "Motor Teams" may include deployment at large scale incidents up to and including earthquakes, brush fires and in times of high hazard, extreme weather conditions.

As is always the case, we welcome your feedback.

Submitted by Matt Spence, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


Terry said...

Sounds like a great plan. Good luck with the pilot program.

Jason said...

Those are KLR650s, the KLX version isn't street legal.

Anonymous said...

LAFD should talk to the Swedish, Japanese and Belgium firefighters. They have been using firefighting motorcycles for decades. In Sweden where they have some real bad brush fires. they have Huskies and BMWs that have biult in water pumps attached to the engines. They arrive first, dump the snorkle in a swimming pool, creek or lake and use a 2.5 Hose and add gel and spray down homes to hold off the fire until air support and the big engines can make it.
As long as they keep the bikes cheap Im all for it. Like KLRs and NOT BMWs im all for it. KLRS are bullet proof and if they get melted into a ball during a fire $6K KLR is easier to be missed than a $30K BMW.

Anonymous said...

Thumbs down LAFD those dirtbikes Can't possibly replace the damage you have done by playing along with the mayor and closing all of those fire companies this month.
A great example of what happens when you have fire chiefs appointed by the mayor jumping ranks and lacking civil service protection.


The post stated that the motorcycles are part of a "unique response team". Fire Departments throughout the country and Europe have used motorcycles for EMS for over 10 years. The LAFD program is not unique. It is surprising that in a City as congested as Los Angeles, the LAFD has not previously utilized motorcycles. We have bike medics and Gator medics, but no Motorcycle medics and no Tactical Medics. For being one of the largest departments in the world, we are sorely behind the times in innovation and ingenuity.

Anonymous said...

Awesome is the only word to describe it. Although there is one correction. They are KLR 650s not KLX 650s. It even got a mention on the world famous website.


Anonymous said...

This is a KLR650. Not a KLX650.

Anonymous said...

Extremely clever program. Hoping it succeeds and maybe expands!

Anonymous said...

How were these teams picked and was everyone given an opportunity to apply?

Paul B. said...

I think it is well worth studying. And I am Glad to hear there are still firefighters at Station 99. During this Fire Department Fiscal crisis I hope pilot programs are not costing staff from proven programs.

Anonymous said...

At least you could have gotten the bike model correct. It is a KLR 650, not a KLX...

Anonymous said...

Ah... The mighty KLR 650. Is there anything it can't do?

LAFD... Give Eagle Mike a call and he'll make sure those bikes last a long, long time. He's the KLR specialist out your way.

--Rusty Shackleford

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...


Thank you for the well wishes for what at this time remains a pilot deployment.

@Jason, @publiccat, @Anonymous 9:30, @Anonymous 9:33 et al

Thank you for politely sharing the correct model number. Despite our best efforts for accuracy, our staff was provided the wrong model number by someone close to the project. Thanks to you all, the corrections have been made :)

@Anonymous 6:46

We are indeed aware of the pioneering efforts of our colleagues overseas (not only in Europe, but in Asia and beyond), many of whom use motorcycles year-round for a wide variety of emergency and non-emergency needs.

@Anonymous 7:07

We appreciate you taking time to politely share your personal opinion, though we can't understand your attempted connection of those separate issues.


Thanks for the note. Please know that Matt's choice of the word 'unique' was in regard to our Department - and not meant to infer ground-breaking or exclusivity. As mentioned above, we're keenly aware of both overseas and North American Fire and EMS responders on motorcycles, including several year-round all-hazard programs.

Please know that the LAFD cannot honor a claim regarding its size, as we so far from the world's largest, that there is little value in such a boastful declaration even if it were to be true :)

While we have our challenges - not the least of which are funding and staffing related matters not dissimilar from other FD's, the ingenuity and caring of our members, along with their spirited optimism, remains an inspiration to many in- and outside our agency.

Thank you for politely sharing your concerns.

@Anonynous 10:27

It may seem clever, but our challenge will be to assess the data and see if it is truly a beneficial, justifiable and given these austere times, a sustainable enhancement of our mission.

@Anonymous 12:38

It is our understanding that this (in essence to this date, 'two-day' pilot program) was approved by Department management and labor leaders as a limited-scope deployment. We welcome you to contact Captain Craig White at Fire Station 88, as well as IAFF Local 112 leadership for details.

@Paul B

Thanks for the note. We're pleased to say LAFD Fire Station 99 has been staffed daily since 1963, and not now or ever has been considered for closure. While many things can be said regarding the Department's new Deployment Plan, the threatened or actual 'closure' of any City of Los Angeles Fire Station [emphasis] is not one of them. If it had not been made clear before, we hope to emphasize that our enhanced deployment during the 405 closure, including staff for the motorcycle pilot program, is being funded by State and County transportation agencies.

@Rusty Shackleford

While no decision has yet been made to utilize these motorcycles in the future, please know that LAFD members are honored to adhere to best practices - including best advice!

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

I hope you all can keep this program going. KLR 650's get upwards of 50 mpg; so utilizing them will help with the overhead of the LAFD. Please do as Rusty said if this program gets the "GO AHEAD" and contact Eagle Mike. He is the Guru of KLR 650's. You all also need to check out This forum will help you with all of your questions that you will ever have about the KLR 650.

GOOD LUCK with the program!!!!


Anonymous said...

I love this. I hope it gets at least a probationary approval and continues. I think it's not only intelligent, it's invaluable as well.


My thanx to your dedication and service.


LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

@Spoonykiller and @Bryan

Thanks for sharing your kind words of confidence via the LAFD News & Information blog. If the program is continued, we'll include mention here. Please ride safely and enjoy!

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

wymanwinn said...

what a GREAT pilot program...and a great way to provide the necessary basic services to those possibly in need during the "shutdown"...

while the KLR650 is a GREAT motorcycle for this type of service a few basic modifications are needed for the "added burden" that would be placed on the machine....

should this program continue i would like to offer the services of myself and that of EagleMike in the proper preparation of the KLR LAFD, of course, at the proper "friend in need" cost...;)

wymanwinn from the forum


LAFD Media and Public Relations said...


Thanks for your wonderful words of encouragement. Though our austere budget has not (yet) allowed this experiment to move forward, we're deeply gratified to know such support remains behind LAFD endeavors in the motorcycle community.

Please stay tuned for developments, and always ride safely!

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

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