LAFD Provides Additional Information Regarding 9-1-1 Response Times

Friday, March 16, 2012 |

LAFD-The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) is currently being asked: have response times gotten worse since the budget was cut a few years ago?

It’s a question being posed to fire departments across the country that are all having to do more with less. The LAFD is no different.

The Fire Department’s budget has been cut by nearly $80 million over the past three fiscal years. To adapt to these cuts the LAFD has used various iterations of deployment and coverage plans that have saved the Department millions of dollars while continuing to ensure the high level of protection and emergency response the public deserves and expects.

The LAFD responds daily to over 1,000 calls across 469 square miles. As calls for emergency medical services continue to increase, the LAFD uses response times to the most critical medical calls as a benchmark. A recent review of data under the newest Deployment Plan shows, as predicted, response time did increase, but the overall impact is minimal.

In fiscal year 2008-2009, prior to any budget cuts, LAFD arrived on scene to an advanced life support call in an average time of four minutes 41 seconds. Under our new plan, the average time is just four seconds longer, four minutes 45 seconds.

The reasons for the increase in response times are based on facts, not false information as some would assert. The City of Los Angeles has seen a 3% increase in the number of Emergency Medical Service calls, while daily staffing has been reduced by 12%, fire companies have been reduced by 12%, and Basic Life Support ambulances have been reduced 17%.

In March of 2011, as part of the budget process, the LAFD submitted a three year Deployment Plan to the Fire Commission and City Government. This plan focused resources to the areas where they are most needed as a way to save money while still maintaining response times recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and jobs.

The plan allowed the LAFD to end disruptive rotational closures of 22 fire companies and six Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances.

The Fire Chief at the time, Millage Peaks, explained the Deployment Plan using new software. The software program projects the impact of redeploying firefighting resources. Using dispatch data, the computer modeled possible deployment solutions based on response times, call frequency, and incident types within each fire station district.

Since it is impossible to predict the number of fire companies that will be called on to respond to a emergency incident at any given period in time, the computer calculated as if ALL the city’s fire companies were in service and available; a best case scenario. The software generated projections only, not actual response times.

Adding to the complexity, in 2009 the LAFD transitioned to a new method of calculating response times and performance. Under the old method, the Fire Department calculated response as 59 seconds for dispatch time and arrival on scene in less than five minutes, for a total of 5 minutes 59 seconds. The current method, aligned with NFPA recommendations, aims for less than five minutes.

When responding to a structure fire, the NFPA allows firefighters an extra 20 seconds in which to don their gear, providing a guideline of five minutes and 20 seconds to reach the scene. Recent data show the LAFD arrives on scene on average in three minutes and 55 seconds; only two seconds slower than units arrived prior to the new Deployment Plan.

The Los Angeles Fire Department monitors its response times on a daily basis and makes changes as necessary to meet demand in different areas when calls for service increase. The Department has not misled the public or city leaders and in fact has been transparent in its efforts to provide accurate response time information. I welcome anyone to review our data and compare us with other departments across the region and country.

I am extremely proud of the Los Angeles Fire Department and the level of service the men and women provide in keeping our city safe. - Brian L. Cummings, Fire Chief

BFC 11-169 November 30, 2011 Deployment Plan Analysis and Report

BFC 11-048 April 28, 2011 Revised Proposed Budget Fiscal Year 2011-12 LAFD Deployment Plan

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


Anonymous said...

It disturbs me enormously to read this "explanation". The NFPA criteria isn't about averages. It's about arriving on-scene in 5 minutes or less 90% of the time. There's no averages in that and to twist the facts is intellectually dishonest.

Bob said...

This misrepresents the issue at hand. The issue was not the overall response times, but did we meet the NFPA standard of five minutes 90% of the time. How was the statistics collected? How did you get the average response times so low compared to last weeks times. I have worked with Mark Woolfe for many years and he is an honest, hard working, and compassionate member of this Department. He does not deserve to be targeted. I am sure he followed the orders he was given. Having experience in Quality Improvement, I have seen statistical information and how it can be changed to what ever the person wants depending on how it is compared. How does the NFPA state the information should be collected and compared? This is the formula that should be used.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is the LAFD lied to the public in regards to our response times. Closing resources will decrease service to the public; and it has. Service to the public has decreased. Lying is unacceptable for a firefighter. All the upper management involved in this scandal should be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

The information above states "A recent review of data under the newest Deployment Plan shows, as predicted, response time did increase, but the overall impact is minimal".

Recently as reported in the news, an older male house fire victim sustained critical burns over 60 percent of his body at a single family dwelling fire that occurred in a district that has had the fire company that normally would have responded first permanently removed.

As recent as last week a person lost their life in a fatality fire that occurred in an apartment located in Fire Station 58's first in district (Pico and Robertson). That fire station recently had the truck and pump permanently removed (6 firefighting personnel and two fire companies, including the Captain II who is charged with managing and supervising firefighting personnel prior to arrival of the Battalion Chief. Is the Fire Department or anyone on Council looking at this incident to determine if the closure of Light Force 58 had a negative impact on this incident and contributed to the loss of life?

Whos is kidding who? Response times will continue to go up as we respond to more calls and start the busy summer months. The citizens of LA will be in real trouble should multiple major emergencies occur at the same time, or we have a large scale incident such as an earthquake or terrorist attack. With the closure of 18 fire companies and the elimination of 360 plus firefighters it is inevitable that lifes and property will be lost.

LAFD Firefighter

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

@Anonymous 5:28, @Anonymous 7:40, @Anonymous 9:11 and LAFD Firefighter,

Thanks for your notes. I apologize for the delay in posting your messages - caused solely by my being away briefly on vacation.

Questions regarding the manner in which such data was tabulated at the LAFD is best answered by those assigned to the Planning Section. You can reach them directly at (213) 978-3845.

We cannot (and should not) speak for the National Fire Protection Association. For a clarification of their issues, guidelines, standards and concerns, we encourage you to visit NFPA.ORG or call (617) 770-3000.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Matthew Shank said...

Brian, saw pics of your new comm center. I need to come down and get a tour. Question: how come no one is mentioning the NFPA standards for call processing are out of date? New standards coming out to address current practice for Emerg Med Dispatch, Hazmat and Special Rescues? Can you direct me to website location for LA FD "Metro" 2011 call volume stat - and staffing? Matt Shank - Sac Regional Fire/EMS Comm Center - Sacramento Co - Shift Supv

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