Mayor Orders LA Fire Chief Brian Cummings To Stop Withholding Information

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Wednesday ordered L.A. Fire Department Chief Brian Cummings to stop withholding basic information about department responses to medical emergencies.

In a letter to the fire chief, Villaraigosa directed Cummings to “immediately resume releasing information that provides LAFD incident specifics without violating federal law.”

“At a time when the Los Angeles Fire Department needs more transparency, not less, I am directing you to immediately resume releasing information that provides LAFD incident specifics without violating federal law,” Villaraigosa’s letter went on to say.

Cummings had issued a statement late Tuesday announcing the department would not disclose data such as incident locations and injury information in order to conform with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, a medical privacy law.

KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reported the reaction after Chief Cummings said the department would be limiting certain public information to conform with new health care legislation.

Claudia Peschiutta’s Exclusive Interview With LA Fire Chief Brian Cummings

City Councilman Mitch Englander, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, questioned the sensibility of the new policy and called a special committee meeting in order discuss the issue and other problems facing the LAFD.

“I understand patient protection, I don’t understand why we can’t release information, and I think it’s bad timing,” said Englander.

The department policy began over the weekend, when the LAFD stopped providing locations for emergency calls such as fires and traffic collisions.

On Tuesday, the department had sent out a media alert that it had doused a house fire, but failed to provide a location of the blaze. A department spokesman later declined to provide a location on a collision between a food truck and a car in downtown Los Angeles, citing the new policy.

The department appeared to ease up on the policy slightly today, providing a street name and block number where an electrical fire occurred, and confirming an evacuation that took place at West Adams Preparatory High School west of downtown due to a nearby electrical problem.

Public Safety Committee Vice Chair Jan Perry called the new policy “shocking,” adding that “it’s critically important on major incidents to share location information.”

The special committee meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

More from Claudia Peschiutta
  • marc

    maybe i do not understand something here. if there is a fire or a car crash or a medical emergancy, there in my mind is a very limited list of people who need to have the location info or any other info. that list would be ANYONE LIVING WHERE THE RESPONCE IS. THE RESPONDERS THE HOSPITAL IF ONE IS NEEDED AND FAMILY OF ANYONE INVOLVED IN THE RESPONCE. if there is a fire 5 miles from my home or a car crash or any other type of emergency and no one i know is involved and i am not involved then I HAVE NO NEED TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT. and dont give me the junk about needing to know for traffic reasons because that is pure bunk. if your in traffic and there is a crash 5 miles ahead how is knowing the info about that crash going to help you?

    • tweaver1945

      If you wish to leave a comment why not use proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization. Are you one of those that leave the barn door open and as the animals bolt free, yell out – it twaint me, that’s how my mama told me to do it?

  • Taxpayer

    This mayor is a joke, talk about transparency and basic information what about city hall and Tony Viagra’s back door deals, this little twerp is as phony as the day is long and never tells the truth.

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