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City Council, LA Fire Clash Over Reported Response Times

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — How fast do LA City Fire and paramedic crews get to your home in the event of an emergency?

That question has caused a lot of controversy of late and today city leaders clashed over response times at an 0ften-contentious three-hour meeting.

The Public Safety Committee challenged the LA Fire Department’s transparency saying they weren’t transparent enough. And they also questioned their honesty when it came to reporting response times. The national average for responders should be about 5 minutes. That mark is hit 90% of the time nationwide.

Committee co-chair Mitch Englander blasted LA Fire Chief Brian Cummings. “I got it,” Englander said, “I understand what you’ve stated and I’m even more frustrated than ever.”

Cummings explained why the department’s response time to 911 calls — originally reported at 80% on time — was actually closer to 60%. “Given the resources that the department was given, this deployment plan using that modeling was the best deployment of the resources that we were given.”

Englander also blasted the fact that LA’s response time is so much lower than the national average, once the actual figure was reported to the committee. “Quite frankly, this to me, is not brain surgery. This makes no sense, that the data from 2008 and 2009, that we used, we already had the real data, and this was never stated by the way. Now, it’s clearly stated that modeling was done for past performance (to change numbers.) When we actually had the real data.”

Cummings insisted the numbers were not changed to mislead. “At no point has the department in the past or currently misled the City Council or the public or anyone else with the numbers. The data is very clear.”

Cummings also said that his department was stretched thin and that if response times were to improve, trimmed budgets would have be restored.

KCAL9’s Amanda Burden reports that the Safety Committee is considering having a third party review the response time data.

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