Fire Station 58 Update

SORO NC and LAFD Community Meeting
Community meeting:

SORO NC General Board Meeting with LAFD Leadership
to discuss their new deployment plan

Thursday, May 19th
7:00pm / Hamilton High School Cafeteria
(map)
 
LA has one of the best Fire Departments in the country and the community is justly concerned about LAFD's proposed changes to Station 58 equipment and staffing. After talking with the LAFD leadership, this is what we know:

Current situation

Station 58 is the 14th busiest in Los Angeles. Right now, Station 58 has four pieces of equipment, organized into three teams:
  • Light Force 58, which has six staff, a hook and ladder truck, and a water pumper,
  • Engine 58, which has four staff and a second pump,
  • Advanced Life Support (ALS) 58, which has two paramedics and an ambulance.

In response to budget cuts in 2009, the LAFD instituted a Modified Coverage Plan (MCP) that shuts down different parts of the station each month. The MCP is still in place.

So right now, during each 27 day period we only have a full complement of twelve staff on duty for twelve days; it goes down to eight staff for six days (when they shut down the Engine); and finally down to six staff for nine days (when they shut down the Light Force). Not ideal.

The new plan

The proposal for Station 58 keeps it open every day. The Station is not closing. They will move the hook-and-ladder to another station, upgrade the Engine team by swapping in a paramedic/firefighter, and put the remaining pump and an additional ambulance in "ready reserve" at the Station. That means we'll have a permanent staff of six (with one more paramedic), instead of the six to twelve rotating Firefighters we have now.

The LAFD leadership feels this is a better plan than the MCP they're under now. Among the benefits are that city-wide, Firefighters will no longer be continually moved from station to station and locally, we'll have a stable team again. LAFD does not plan any furloughs or lay-offs.

Additionally, the Battalion Command Team will move closer to us (to Fire Station 68 on Washington Blvd., 2.5 miles away).

The next closest Fire Station that serves the SORO area is Station 92 on Pico. They were similarly staffed. The plan calls for eliminating their Engine company and placing it in ready reserve (taking their staffing down to eight).

If the two Stations were fully staffed (as it would have been pre-2009), we would have two Light Forces, two Engines, and two ALS ambulances. With the new plan, we'll have one Light Force, one Engine, and two ALS ambulances between them.

Projected impact

Station 58 fields 15.8 calls a day. 13 of those are medical-related; the rest are a mix of gas leaks, people stuck in elevators, actual fires, etc. The new plan for Station 58 places more emphasis on medical response and less on fire fighting, and the extra paramedic should help in that regard. The Engine company is still very able to fight fires, of course.

The extra ready reserve pump and ambulance can be activated in emergency situations, although with some delay.

One of the biggest concerns is that a ladder truck does have specialty equipment, including am extending aerial ladder, chain saws for ventilating smoke from roofs, and the jaws of life. Calls that require a ladder truck would be dispatched from one of the nearby stations:
  • Station 92 on Pico (Century City) - 2.6 miles
  • Station 61 on 3rd St (Fairfax) - 3.6 miles
  • Station 94 on Coliseum (Baldwin Hills) - 4.1 miles
  • Station 29  on Wilshire (Hancock Park) - 4.6 miles
  • Station 26 on S. Western (West Adams) - 4.7 miles

However, LAFD projects that even though we are losing the ladder truck and one pump, response times should be better for us across the board than under the current brown-out plan. They point out that its common now for them to dispatch units from other stations when our team is out on calls or when there is a larger fire.

 
LAFD Projected response times for SORO area (in minutes)


Response Medical: Basic Medical: Paramedic Medical: Ambulance Fire: Engine Fire: Light Force
Full Staffing 4:55 / 78% 5:26 / 91% 5:42 / 95% 4:08 / 91% 5:20 / 96%
MCP (current) 4:57 / 76% 5:30 / 90% 5:47 / 94% 4:13 / 89% 5:40 / 94%
New Plan (projected) 4:57 / 77% 5:18 / 93% 5:46 / 94% 4:11 / 90% 5:31 / 96%

The chart shows average response times and how often they hit or beat that time. Of course, the times shown in the bottom row are only projections.

With the pending high-rise developments in Century City, the need for ladder trucks in our area will certainly increase.

Decision process

The proposed plan comes from Chief Peaks and his team, not the City Council. It's based on their analysis of a million calls over the last three years (download an informational brochure from LAFD). They used a computerized system called ADAM to determine which areas of the City needed which resources. You can see some of that analysis at the LAFD website

They estimate that the plan would save $55 million a year, mainly through staff attrition. The City Council, of course, sets the LAFD's budget. The Council LAFD budget discussion will happen on Wednesday, May 18.

When we asked the LAFD leadership if—regardless of budget—they preferred the new plan to the current MCP with its station brown-outs, they said yes. Individual Firefighters and their Union may disagree.

What you can do

It's important that our Council Members and the Mayor know how we feel before they discuss cuts to the LAFD budget on the 18th.

Similarly, the LAFD needs to understand how we feel about their deployment plan. As noted above, at the request of Council Member Koretz, SORO NC will host the LAFD leadership on Thursday, May 19th at its General Board meeting. We encourage you to attend and ask questions. You can also contact their Public Information Officer, Captain Jaime Moore, at (213) 978-3824 or via email at jaime.moore@lacity.org.

The Station itself will hold an open house on Sunday, May 15 from 9am to 1pm.