Fire Chief Gets Grilled by Commission

Chief Brian Cummings addressed allegations that he misled City Council members

L.A.’s fire chief admitted on Tuesday that he did not clearly communicate data about the Los Angeles Fire Department’s emergency response times to City Council members before a vote to approve the department’s deployment plan.

But Fire Chief Brian Cummings said his department never misled city officials.

“We didn’t communicate clearly, or as soon as was necessary, [that's] what the issue was,” Cummings said.

The chief made his comments during a meeting of the city’s Fire Commission, which called on Cummings to address allegations that council members were deliberately misled so they’d vote for the plan.

So, why did the fire department say it was getting to medical emergencies within five minutes nearly 80 percent of the time when, in fact, the number is closer to 60 percent?

"There is a feeling that we deliberately misled, which I don’t believe happened," said Fire Commissioner Genethia Hudley-Hayes.

Cummings told the commission that the calculations were erroneously based on six-minute response times, instead of five minutes, and that the 80 percent success rate was based on computer modeling projections and not real-world scenarios.

Add those, he said, and the results can change.

Union officials called his explanation hocus-pocus, and say firefighters from one end of the city to the other were seeing the results of cuts in everyday duty.


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"Guess what? We know exactly how fast we got on-scene back then," said Pat McOsker, president of the L.A. Firefighters Union. "Just use the data – the real data."

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