Report: LAFD response times remaining steady
Improvement in average call processing time offset by longer travel time; data available to public on LAFD wesbite
LOS ANGELES — In the first two months since the Los Angeles Fire Department began its FireStat tracking program, response times for emergency medical service calls remained fairly constant with previous months.
Figures were released Wednesday for November for both individual stations and as a citywide average. Officials said December numbers are still forthcoming due to the time needed to compile and verify the figures.
Across the region, response times showed a one-second improvement, dropping from 6:35 to 6:34. The time includes how long it takes for calls to be processed, how long crews need to mobilize and how long they spend in traffic. The figures are available on the Fire Department website at lafd.org/about/performance.
“Our call processing time is down by seven seconds citywide, but there were increases in travel time, so overall we gained about one second,” said LAFD spokesman Peter Sanders.
“We are still in the stage of analyzing all the data and don’t have a full year in yet.”
Also, Sanders said, the department will be starting its four bureaus after Jan. 1, which will put individual commanders in charge of the information.
Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas instituted a program that divides the department into four bureaus, one of the key reforms called for to improve accountability and modeled after the Los Angeles Police Department, .
“We expect they will be able to drill deep on the numbers and decide how to make improvements,” Sanders said.
Frank Lima, president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, said he was not surprised at the lack of change.
“The number one determining factor in predicting response times is the amount of firefighters, paramedics and resources that we have in our community fire stations on a daily basis,” Lima said.
“The LAFD continues to be the most understaffed big city fire department in the country. This mayor and our current City Council understand our staffing crisis, and I believe they will continue to take positive steps toward addressing our shortages and working to reopen previously closed facilities.”
But, Lima added, response times will continue at the current levels until more people are available.
FireStat was put into effect in October by Mayor Eric Garcetti after years of study to determine how to best measure response times by the LAFD.
It does not take into account geographical differences some stations must deal with, particularly in remote areas and those with twisting mountain roads.
Garcetti made response times one of the main issues in his campaign and since taking office. Upon releasing the numbers at the inception of FireStat, he said that the current response times “stunk.”
He has boosted the LAFD budget to allow the hiring of more firefighters and paramedics. “I believe using this data, we can cut seconds, tens of seconds off response times,” Garcetti said at the time. “Those seconds could be the matter of life and death for someone.”
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