Los Angeles Fire Chief Addresses 9-1-1 Response Times

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 |

On March 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM, Los Angeles Fire Chief Brian L. Cummings addressed LAFD's 9-1-1 response times...
LAFD Fire Chief Brian Cummings
 "As we transitioned to our current Deployment in early 2011, we were also transitioning to a different methodology for calculating performance data. At every point in the process, we have been consistent in using a single method for comparison.

Information provided by this Department to the public and city government has been accurate.

I fully support the integrity of Captain Mark Woolf and Retired Captain Bill Wells.

The statistical data that each of these Officers have provided on LAFD response times have been valid and accurate.

In the past, (2008), the LAFD’s response times were calculated by hand and measured using 5:59 seconds as a benchmark.

Chief Millage Peaks, Fire Chief at the time, made the decision to align the LAFD’s data analysis with the NFPA’s 5 minute turnout and travel time recommendation. This would align the LAFD with the national recommendation.

I have confidence in our response times and welcome an audit.

The data is the data.

With increased number of incidents, 22 fewer units to respond, workload has increased. There has been an impact on response times and company availability. This deployment was planned to minimize that impact. We are constantly assessing the deployment, analyzing our data and do plan to make adjustments as necessary.

On February 28, 2012, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) moved our 9-1-1 dispatching facility, known as the Operations Control Division (OCD) from City Hall East, to the City’s new Emergency Operations Center. This new dispatch facility is called Metro Fire Communications (Metro).

This historic move from an underground cold war era facility to a technologically advanced communications center was funded when the voters of Los Angeles approved Proposition “Q”.

The Los Angeles Fire Department operates the busiest fire department 9-1-1 dispatch center west of the Mississippi, processing over 800,000 calls per year.

Currently, the 9-1-1 phone system is operating properly, and we are receiving emergency calls as they come in.

The Fire Department radio system is working across our 460 square mile jurisdiction.

The Computer Aided Dispatch system is running as normal, reaching each of our 106 neighborhood fire stations.

However, shortly after the move to Metro, the Dispatch Communications Network that connects the city’s fire stations to Metro, experienced periods of instability, resulting in the intermittent delivery of audible voice dispatches to the fire stations.

Thankfully, there are supplemental notification systems in place to notify firefighters at the fire station when a incident comes in, they include:

Tones that sound
Fire phones that ring
A dispatch print out
Lights that turn on
Station bells that ring

These systems have been operating normally.

The LAFD’s dispatch system is working 99% of the time. However it is this 1% of the time that we are in the process of remedying.

On March 7, 2012 at approximately 10:00 A.M. the Dispatch Communications Network experienced a sudden slow down in data throughout. Simply put, the calls were not reaching the fire stations. The Commanding Officer at Metro Fire Communications ordered the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system to be bypassed which required a systematic transition into “manual mode”. This means our dispatchers had to manually process calls and track LAFD resources. This also required our neighborhood fire stations to monitor their radios for dispatch information, establishing a process called “Radio Watch.”

Coinciding with the transition to the manual mode Metro experienced an elevated level of incoming calls. This caused the processing times for some calls to be extended and resulted in a delay in responses, specifically involving two of the more than 1000 incidents handled by the LAFD that day.

These calls are currently under review by the Commanding Officers at Metro Fire Communications.

Engineers from the City’s Information Technology Agency (ITA) have been working with a private network engineering firm through the weekend to remedy the problem.

The dispatch communications network is a 20 year old system that the Department is seeking to replace.

I must commend the firefighters in the field, the firefighter dispatchers at Metro Fire Communications, the Department's civilian staff and ITA for their vigilance in trying to remedy the problem, ensuring that our resources are responding a quickly as possible when the emergency calls come in."
Los Angeles Fire Chief Addresses Response Times

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


Anonymous said...

The Fire Chief is not being honest, in fact he is lying. Our dispatch center is not working properly. We have been on radio watch every day since they moved, at least a portion of the day. We still don't get an audio when we get a structure run. On 3/7 we had several runs that we got 20 - 30 mins after they were received. The Chiefs there were two. Again not true. We had several and that just at one fire station. come on Chief, tell the people the truth. We need staffing the resources that were cut.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 7:59,

Thanks for the note. Though our blog team cannot independently validate such claims, we do encourage you to formally share concerns of an operational nature with your Chain of Command and Union Local.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

As it appears, it can be said that "the LAFD upper management decided they should add 59 seconds on top of the 5 minute standard (which includes the call taking time) to add an approximate 20% increase to show that response times are being met 80% of the time and not the true 60%.. and it just so happened to be added at the time (2009) in which votes had to be made in order to enact a plan to cut the Fire Dept. Pretty sure votes might have been cast differently if it was known that only about 60% percent of calls were meeting the 5 minute standard. And what kind of stats can be derived from "the most critical medical calls as a benchmark"? who are they to decide the public's need for emergency resources, if you call 911 no matter who it is, it is their emergency and they need help, and the response time should be thought to be as critical as any call. I don't believe the public calls 911 thinking that someone will show up when they can...

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the LAFD is managed by a political appointee, the Fire Chief, who is in the Mayor's pocket. He then appoints a staff that will be his dog-and-pony show, a staff that will perform as he dictates. Those Chief Officers who will not jump thru his hoops, are moved or demoted (new plan for Deputy Chiefs). Consequently, we now have a three-ring circus where the facts are manipulated to support the 'show'. The show is what the politicians want to see, so they can cut the budget and move the money to where they prefer, and best manage THEIR RE-ELECTION. It is all politics, not public safety. Use or look up the report the LAFD did in person in front of all the Pacific Palisades community at the Fire Station. The dog-and-pony show to support why Engine 69 is not needed. No logic there except to save money, not lives. Resources are spread way to thin to provide effective service. Engine 69 was placed there as part of a two company plan, based on good old common sense and good judgement. A skill/quality possessed by humnans, not mechanical computers that can only digest the information it's fed by bean-counters and propeller heads.

Anonymous said...


The Fire Chief stated in his document addressing response times that "The Los Angeles Fire Department is the only Large Metropolitan FireDepartment that is transparent, by releasing it’s response times to the public.

If this is correct, how did Mr. Austin Buetner obtain the response times for other large metropolitan departments. They were recently published in the Huffington Post? Did Chief Cummings mispeak? Additionally as part of a research paper, I was able to obtain response times for other large departments. Where did Chief Cummings get his information from?

LAFD Captain

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 5:38 and Anonynous 8:05,

Thank you for passionately yet politely sharing your thoughts. I apologize for the delay in posting your message, as I was away on vacation.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

LAFD Captain,

Thanks for the note. I apologize to you as well for the delay in posting your message and a reply - caused solely by my vacation absence.

Yours is a great question.

Our media and public relations office (aka Matt, Erik and I) are not normally "provided" (nor to be frank, have we had a need or desire for) any raw [emphasis] data from the LAFD - or other Fire Department.

The time honored practice at our office has been to request (or more often view or download) the 'approved' reports at the same time they are provided to the Fire Commission, usually by the LAFD Planning Section.

I'm not sure of precisely which Fire Departments were surveyed by the LAFD Planning Section or alluded to by the Fire Chief. As such, your best bet would be to contact LAFD Planning directly at (213) 978-3845 for their data, and possibly reach out to Mayoral candidate Beutner.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Post a Comment

Comments to this blog are approved or disapproved without editing.

We seek to offer a broad cross-section of *public* thoughts that are specific to the topic at hand and genuinely polite in tone - regardless of opinion.

Kindly post your comments below.