April 2, 2010

Granada Hills' Fire Station 18 to Lose Their Ambulance at Night?

Local Councilman Greig Smith's Response to the City's Budget Dilemma:

Greig SmithDear Friend:

It has come to my attention that there has been some misunderstanding about certain proposed reductions in the Fire Department as part of the City’s efforts to close the $212 million budget shortfall.

We received messages from community members in Porter Ranch, Granada Hills and West Hills voicing concern about a proposal from the L.A. Fire Department to reduce the BLS (Basic Life Support) ambulance to 12 hours a day at Fire Stations #8 in Porter Ranch, Station #18 in Granada Hills, and Station #106 on Roscoe Blvd. in West Hills (which is in District 3 but serves part of our area).

I sincerely understand this concern. As an LAPD Reserve Officer, I serve as a first responder myself, and the last thing that I would support is a cut that would affect emergency services.

However, it has been incorrectly stated that this was my proposal. This proposal was made by the Fire Department, and was brought forward to the Police and Fire Efficiencies Working Group as one of the means to meet the goal set for budget reductions in the Fire Department.

When the Fire Department presented this package of proposed reductions, Fire Chief Millage Peaks stated that he did not want to do this, but that it was the “easiest to suggest.” I served as the moderator of the Police and Fire Efficiencies Working Group and the group forwarded this proposal as part of several options. The City Administrative Officer then created a report recommending that proposal to the City Council. It was not my proposal. In fact, the Fire Chief has full authority over Fire Department deployment and could do this now without our approval.

The Chief's proposal states that Fire Stations #8, #18 and #106 will lose the BLS (Basic Life Support) ambulance for 12 hours a day at a time during which there are the lowest number of calls.

Station #8 gets only 2.2 calls a day in total, and less than one call per day during the affected time frame. Station #18 gets 3.8 calls per day and 1.4 calls during the affected time frame. Station #106 gets 2 calls per day and less than one call during the affected time frame.

(GHNNC.org note: The nightly average stated above is equal to 511 calls at night per year for the GHNNC area.)

The engine and the ALS (Advanced Life Support) ambulances from Station #96 in Chatsworth, Station #70 in Northridge, and Station #87 in Granada Hills will continue to cover the Porter Ranch and Granada Hills area as they have. The West Hills area will continue to be covered by Station #28 in Porter Ranch and #105 in Woodland Hills.

Finally, there has been some concern raised in the community about the Fire Department wanting to retain the Battalion Chiefs’ Staff Assistants whose functions include driving them to fire calls, and a feeling that they should be cut before reducing ambulance services.

The Fire Department and the Firefighters Union (UFLAC) both have fought vigorously against taking away the Staff Assistants. The City Council will consider the issue of whether we should eliminate service of 10 ambulances for 12 hours a day in very low-use areas, or eliminate the full-time Staff Assistants serving Battalion Chiefs.

I anticipate that eventually both will be gone, at least temporarily. But I am interested in hearing the community’s point of view in the debate at this time.

I hope this clarifies my position, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. (Click to email the Councilman)

Sincerely,
GREIG SMITH
Councilman, Twelfth District

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