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LAFD reduces Light Force staffing to put 11 additional ambulances on the road

"After asking for money and not receiving it, I am moving forward.” Chief Cummings said. “What we need is additional ambulances."

On May 5, staffing at 22 LAFD Light Forces (tiller truck + pumper) will be reduced from a staff of six to a staff of five. Eleven EMT-level ambulances will be placed in service.

This represents a 1/3rd increase in staffed EMT ambulances (total 45) and should reduce the workload of the 89 paramedic ambulances and the need to send a fire company first responder to medical calls.

Ben Welsh, Robert J. Lopez and Kate Linthicum (2013 April 25) LAFD chief presses ahead with firefighter reassignment plan. Los Angeles Times

Ben Welsh (2013 April 16) Draft LAFD ambulance plan. Los Angeles Times

Ambulance Transport a long-standing LAFD issue

After a high profile crisis in public confidence in 1999, the department embarked on an ambitious expansion program that was funded by the city council.

By the end of the expansion, LAFD increased the transport fleet by 40%. A June 2005 snapshot showed:

  • 83 paramedic ambulances
  • 45 EMT ambulances
  • 6 part-time transport units
  • "Paramedic asset" in every fire station
  • EMS Supervisor (Captain II) in every battalion
  • Expanded staff of civilian ems educators 

The department added 210 paramedic positions.

Recession Erodes Resources

LAFD has been shrinking on-duty resources since 2008, reflecting the continuing impact on the city budget. We estimated that the department had 228 fewer firefighters on duty every day in July 2011 than they had in July 2005, with temporary closure of stations. At the start of the FY 2012 budget they closed 12 engine companies and 6 light forces, eliminated a division chief and 8 EMS Supervisors. A total of 357 positions were eliminated.

While the budget has shrunk since 2008, the number of requests for ambulances has increased.  On May 5, 2013, LAFD will have an ambulance fleet that is 6 paramedic ambulances larger than the 2005 fleet. There were 316,866 calls for EMS in calendar year 2011 – 298,205 in calendar year 2007

Mike "FossilMedic" Ward

Comments - Add Yours

  • Dave LeBlanc

    Of course they didn’t reduce staffing on the light forces because it wasn’t needed. Once again the Fire Service takes at hit for EMS staffing. I am a huge proponent of Fire Based EMS, but it should not come at the cost of proper staffing for Fire Suppression.

    • Mike “FossilMedic” Ward

      Thanks for posting Dave

      • Dave LeBlanc

        No problem Mike, frustrating to me that Cities and Towns refuse to do the right thing at our expense.

    • Sean

      Speaking as a paramedic still working for the LAFD (24+ years), nearly 90% of the dispatches are EMS related. I applaud Chief Cummings for this bold & innovative move to reduce response times. Most LAFD members I’ve talked to are happy this is being done. The fraud, waste, & abuse exists; we all know. The lack of personal responsibility & tort abuse are also other factors that make this vocation extremely taxing on the workers. Another factor that is frustrating is the lack of “sharing the load” within the fire service. The ambulances, in general, are very busy while the light forces are very slow. By moving 1 firefighter off of 22 light forces to staff 11 BLS ambulances will improve response times & balance the work load for the BLS & ALS ambulances that are overworked. Frequently, ALS ambulances are dispatched to BLS incidents because all BLS are on incidents. Well done!!!

      • Mike “FossilMedic” Ward

        Thanks for sharing your perspective Sean.