The Los Angeles Times published an editorial calling for reforms in exchange for additional funding during rounds of budget cuts. LA is facing a $200 million deficit, but the Fire Department is asking for $50 million more in funding.
It was in December of 2012 that the LAFD Chief reported to the City Council that he needs $50 million to improve deteriorating response times. Sin recent years, and after $54 million in cuts, the LAFD response time has grown to more than a minute more than the national goal.
In a CBS Local article, Chief Brian Cummings said that the “simple answer is money. If you give us money, we’ll have more technology, we’ll have more civilian support state, we’ll have more resources in the field.”
However, the Times editorial points out that with reforms, $50 million could be leveraged for far greater savings in the long-term. For instance, the LAFD uses sworn personnel to serve in dispatch centers, when civilians are used by other agencies at a minimum savings of $30,000 per year.
The responsibility to reform isn’t simply a task facing the LAFD internally. For years, city officials have relied upon department heads to self-report what resources they need. The Times article calls for greater oversight by the City Council, especially in light of the LAFD’s decision to base resource allocation on projection instead of actual data. Those decisions, in the opinion of the Times, chipped away at the credibility of the fire department.
Read the full editorial at the Los Angeles Times.