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Expert Quits After 3-Month Review Of LAFD Response Times

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A statistical analyst hired to restore public confidence in Los Angeles Fire Department response times said Tuesday that flawed data is the primary cause of any apparent delays.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports Jeff Godown announced he will step down from his full-time role with the fire department, but will stay on as a consultant after delivering his findings to the Los Angeles Fire Commission.

Godown, the interim director of statistical analysis, told commissioners that department response time may actually be better than it appears before announcing his departure.

An estimated 50 or 60 emergency calls each day are downgraded to non-emergency status as the ambulances and fire engines are still rolling, but since that downgrade is not subsequently entered into the system, those calls are still measured against the national emergency response time standard.

“During the course of that call they decide to downgrade it, so if a fire truck is supposed to get there within eight minutes, when it’s downgraded, they get there in nine,” said Godown.

Godown was hired to respond to an audit by City Controller Wendy Greuel that showed an increased response time for medical emergencies by about 20 seconds since budget cuts made in 2009.

The findings triggered a backlash among fire officials and prompted an apology from Chief Brian Cummings back in March.

“We’ll give our best effort to make those corrections,” Deputy Chief Mario Rueda told KCAL9’s Kara Finnstrom. “One of the takeaways from the audit was the inaccuracies raised by the controller’s office.”

But after only three months, Godown will be leaving for a job at UC San Francisco, where he will likely have to use skills garnered in his short time working with the LAFD.

“You have to be a hundred percent right,” he said. “Being partly right does not work in this business.”

The move comes as commissioners signaled a willingness to implement any recommendations at their next meeting on July 17.

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