LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A surplus of hundreds of millions of dollars in a city reserve fund may be used to bring back mothballed engines and ambulances in the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports now officials with the Board of Fire Commissioners are calling on the City Council to act.

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Pat McOsker, president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City (UFLAC), said commissioners now support his call for the city to open up the $200 million reserve fund to bring back ambulances, engines, and the staff to operate them.

McOsker said the chief administrative officer has grown the reserve fund to 5 percent of the city’s budget.

“I always thought reserves for a city like Los Angeles were for emergencies, to make people safe, and yet the CAO has grown that reserve by more than he’s taken from the fire department,” he said.

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Fire commissioners initially fought department cuts over two years ago, but in the wake of reports that response times have worsened, the board now wants to use the reserve fund to help make the department whole.

McOsker even suggested to board president Genethia Hutley-Hayes that the extra money in reserve is only there to get a better rate for borrowing.

“Is that a better thing than getting paramedics on scene within 5 minutes when somebody’s struggling for air, when somebody’s dying?” asked McOsker. “I don’t think so.”

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“I’m not saying whether it’s better or worse, I’m saying we just need to lay the whole thing out,” said Hutley-Hayes.