Firefighters Warn Plan Could Imperil Public Safety

The LA firefighters' union head plans to denounce plan that could cut critical life-saving personnel

By Jason Kandel
|  Thursday, Apr 25, 2013  |  Updated 10:24 PM PDT
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The head of the Los Angeles city firefighters' union is using a recent fatal blaze as the latest in a worst-case scenario to denounce a plan by the chief to shift staff away from critical firefighting duties. Fire Chief Brian Cumming's plan would add 11 new ambulances to the department's force, but even his top commanders are questioning his reorganization plan. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from North Hollywood for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 25, 2013.

Gordon Tokumatsu

The head of the Los Angeles city firefighters' union is using a recent fatal blaze as the latest in a worst-case scenario to denounce a plan by the chief to shift staff away from critical firefighting duties. Fire Chief Brian Cumming's plan would add 11 new ambulances to the department's force, but even his top commanders are questioning his reorganization plan. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from North Hollywood for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 25, 2013.

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Following the death Monday of a man in an apartment fire, the head of LA’s firefighters' union is calling on city officials and the chief to rethink a plan that calls for staff changes that the firefighter’s union president says could endanger more lives.

Frank Lima, the president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles, will denounce a plan by Fire Chief Brian Cummings that calls for removing firefighters from trucks to non-paramedic ambulance duty, taking the number of firefighters on a truck down from four to three.

In a written report, Cummings said he's proposing the plan to better serve the city in which more than 80 percent of all 911 calls are for medical service, the agency said.

Lima is expected to argue that these staff changes will “Rob Peter to Pay Paul,” putting the lives and safety of firefighters and the public at greater risk.

The event, scheduled for noon, will be held at the site of Monday's fire at 5158 Riverton Ave. in North Hollywood, in which a man died and a second man was wounded.

The fire, which officials are investigating as arson, ripped through a two-story, 24-unit apartment building.

Three people were treated by paramedics at the scene and were released.

Five units on the second floor sustained fire and/or smoke damage and some units on the first floor had water damage.

The civilian Fire Commission, which oversees the department, is expected to review the Chief's staffing plan at a meeting on Thursday. The plan will have to go before the city's public safety committee for a second review before a full City Council vote.

The Los Angeles Fire Department has come under scrutiny recently for fudging response times to make it appear that firefighters were responding quicker to emergencies than they actually were.
 

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