LAFD faked response times

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LAflyer

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News coming out that for years LAFD has been reporting much better response times than reality.

So instead of near 90% first unit arrival rate within 5-minutes meeting national targets, the actual percentage is really down in the 60% range since 2008.
Apparently the departments statistician generously counted all responses that fell within 6 minutes which was the departments internal response goal as having met the 5 minute national guideline instead.

A few stories:
L.A. Fire Department admits exaggerating response times - latimes.com
LAFD says data on response times is misleading - San Jose Mercury News
LAFD's response times had been inflated (report) | 89.3 KPCC

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jrholm

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Considering the city council approved realignments based on those stats they are now prime for disaster.
 

Radio_Lady

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Regardless of where the chips fall with the response-time mess, since Day 1 his dis-honor the Mayor has been fixated on expanding LAPD's sworn staffing at the expense of almost everyone else under his control (including LAPD's now-decimated civilian staff). I have serious doubts that response times, no matter what they really had been before, would have made much dent in his encouraging and approving the gutting of LAFD's budget.

As much as anyone (and more than many), I'm keenly aware of the importance of response times by public safety agencies, but with fire and EMS calls things get worse with virtually every second of delay. Quick response to many police incidents is also important, but more often than not any immediate crisis is already over by the time the first officers arrive anyway. There are certainly many exceptions to that, but in my experience it's by far the rule rather than the exception, other than the PR value of an officer showing up quickly.
 

pepsima1

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Regardless of where the chips fall with the response-time mess, since Day 1 his dis-honor the Mayor has been fixated on expanding LAPD's sworn staffing at the expense of almost everyone else under his control (including LAPD's now-decimated civilian staff). I have serious doubts that response times, no matter what they really had been before, would have made much dent in his encouraging and approving the gutting of LAFD's budget.

As much as anyone (and more than many), I'm keenly aware of the importance of response times by public safety agencies, but with fire and EMS calls things get worse with virtually every second of delay. Quick response to many police incidents is also important, but more often than not any immediate crisis is already over by the time the first officers arrive anyway. There are certainly many exceptions to that, but in my experience it's by far the rule rather than the exception, other than the PR value of an officer showing up quickly.
I took the LAFD firefighter exam back in 2008 and was placed on the firefighting recruitement list and started to go through the process of getting hired and then everything was put on a freeze. Went back for another interview in 2009 and then nothing every happened. For a department that is so huge or use to be huge is in a world of hurt. For a big fire department not hiring for over 4 years now there is a huge staffing problem. The big question is how much further can you cut until the city has a natural disaster or a terror attack and the city will be in a world of hurt. Engine companies have been cut, stations have been shutdown, Divisions wiped out no hiring in the last few years = DISASTER> Its just a matter of time until the city will be crippled. Oh and then The City of LA will finally open up their eyes.

Wait until one of the mayors family members is in need for emergency services and nobody is around to help because of staffing issues and then somebody dies because of these cuts....

Ponder on that one. NO EXCUSES TO CUT EMERGENCY SERVICES>>>
 

Radio_Lady

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Emergency funds allocated to fix LAFD dispatch problems

(Commentary: And done on a weekend, no less.)

From Funds siphoned into city's emergency response system after dispatch delays | 89.3 KPCC (posted 5:05 PM Sunday)

Funds siphoned into city's emergency response system after dispatch delays

Emergency funds have been allocated by the Los Angeles Fire Commission in order to fix glitches in the city's emergency response system that are delaying the dispatch of firefighters and paramedics.

The Los Angeles Times reports Sunday that a woman bled profusely for 45 minutes on March 7 while waiting for paramedics after a factory machine sliced off one finger and mangled the others.

The delay was caused by a brief failure in the fire department's dispatching system.

Firefighters say the system problems are recurring and have created confusion at fire stations, forcing dispatchers to deploy old backup plans.

Fire commission President Genethia Hudley-Hayes says the panel will address equipment breakdowns and response times at its meeting Tuesday.

Officials say the dispatching system is aging and was recently moved.

Poster's Note: Dispatch and staffing issues listed in Meeting Agenda section 5 - New Business
 
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LAflyer

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Fire Commission meeting

Chief Cummings testified today at the Fire Commission.

Now turns out the story is that the department used computerized projections of response times, instead of actual performance data, in reports about budget cuts given to the Fire Commission and to members of the City Council last year.
So now I guess they are truly in the business of fruit cocktails mixing Apples(5 min national target), Pears(6 min departmental goal), and Oranges(hypothetical computer models).

Cummings did own up the department has not been clear about communicating the department’s use of various data.

Story:
L.A. fire chief offers new explanation of response times - latimes.com

Love the comment by the firefighters union:
"Every time the fire chief speaks about response times, his nose grows a little"
 

karldotcom

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Yes, when we get on to the third version of why the numbers aren't accurate, it gets a little old.

But, what do you expect....with LAPD using COMPSTAT "crime hasn't been this lower since Father Serra built the Mission system"...yet you hear of stabbings, shootings, bodies turning up in the park every news cycle.
 

LAflyer

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Well after a few City Council hearings, decision was made to hire an outside firm to audit and investigate the LAFD response time reporting.

This in itself is a controversy with future mayoral candidate and current city controller doing her own audit, along with Mayor Villaraigosa having brought a statistician from the LAPD to investigate the confusion.

L.A. City Council votes for another Fire Department inquiry - latimes.com

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DPD1

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Yes, when we get on to the third version of why the numbers aren't accurate, it gets a little old.

But, what do you expect....with LAPD using COMPSTAT "crime hasn't been this lower since Father Serra built the Mission system"...yet you hear of stabbings, shootings, bodies turning up in the park every news cycle.
I don't know what the actual numbers are, but it does seem like things are better than years back. Things seemed way more nutty in the 80's and early 90's. Back then it seemed like the copter was coming over every single night. And now I actually see cars patrolling the side streets, which was unheard of not long ago. Or maybe it's worse and I've just become use to it. :)
 

LAflyer

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Flawed data

The nationally recognized COMPSTAT expert brought in by the mayor says LAFD response data can’t be trusted.
The department used inconsistent methodology, flawed software and had inexperienced staff overseeing the statistical reporting over the years.

LAFD emergency response times: Expert to address Fire Commission - latimes.com)
and
LAFD response times can't be trusted, report to mayor says - latimes.com

I'm not sure if we will ever know what the truth and actual historical response stats were.

Pretty embarrassing imo for a proud department like LAFD.
 

LAflyer

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More criticism of LAFD response times.

This time, its dispatching is being faulted for taking far longer than the national standard to send rescuers.

Dispatch lag slows Los Angeles Fire Department call response - latimes.com

Analysis of more than 1 million dispatches found that the department falls far short of the national standard that rescue units be alerted within one minute on 90% of 911 calls.
LAFD's average call performance has decreased, five years ago firefighters were dispatched to medical calls within a minute 38% of time, and by 2011, that number dropped to only 15%.
 

pepsima1

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There is always going to be bad things that happen when there are cuts and more cuts. When you cut personal or don't hire firefighters in the past 5 years there is going to be breakdowns in the system. As of today on LA City's Fire Department buelltin board posts they plan to start testing and hiring firefighters by the end of this year or next spring. That is the plan for now. There is no way that LA CITY can cut more from their department. They are running below minimun staffing each day and you can only dig so deep before there is a breakdown in the system for which there has been a breakdown with faked response times.

Things will get better in time. Cut backs are hard and the general public feels within the LA City limits.
 

karldotcom

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It is only going to get worse next budget year. But they Mayor added 8000 city positions while losing 400,000 jobs in the City of LA....but he is off giving interviews for his next election while the house of cards fall....
 

gmclam

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Reverse logic

instead of near 90% first unit arrival rate within 5-minutes meeting national targets, the actual percentage is really down in the 60% range since 2008.
With budgets as they are these days, it would seem to be more in their interest to fudge times the other way. I'd tell you that you don't need more firefighters if you're response times are ~90%. Tell me they are at ~60% and that would support needing more people.
 

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Allow me to step up on my soapbox...

It's an unpopular opinion, and I agree firefighters provide an essential and often dangerous service, but at no point over the past few years with the struggles with brown-outs, budget cuts, and now the response time fiasco, has the union stepped up and offered to make any sort of concession in wages to alleviate any of these problems. I remember when they were shutting down companies about a year ago, and they grandstanded in the media about how lives were going to be lost, and how the city and mayor would have blood on their hands. But, last I checked, LAFD firefighters are some of the best compensated public employees in the United States. What could a 5% temporary reduction of annual wages across the board accomplish? Keep companies open, staff more RAs and 800 rescues? What about 10%? The average LAFD firefighter makes close to 6 figures, many well over with OT. (Read the Daily News expose from a couple years ago)

I spent a number of years in EMS, and even tested with LAFD at one point. (And before anyone accuses me of harboring a grudge, I re-aggravated a previous shoulder injury well into the testing process, and voluntarily withdrew) There has always been the joke in the Fire/EMS world: "There's the right way, and then there's the LA City way". LAFD has long had a culture of belligerence towards conventional thinking. While innovations like the 800 series rescues have been revolutionary, they continue to hold fast to things like BC drivers and the Light Force concept that have long since been abandoned by nearly every other department. It was noted last year, just eliminating the BC drivers would allow a number of RA units, or a handful of engine companies to be staffed.

And let's face it, the burnout rate is astronomical. You can hear it on the radio. When the "person sick" call goes out, you know no one is racing towards the rigs to blast out the doors. No land speed records are being broken rolling to the 9th "at the payphone" call of the day. And until the recent revelations of the fudged response times, there were no repercussions for slow response times, and even now, I still don't think there really has been any sort of repercussion at the line level.

The entire culture is going to have to change, radically.
 
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