LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Despite protests from firefighters, a citizen panel is allowing Fire Chief Brian Cummings’ plan to add 11 more ambulances by reassigning firefighters to go forward.

The plan to reassign one firefighter from “light force companies” to ambulance duty will go into effect on May 5. The transfers will create 11 new ambulance units.

Cummings says the move will better match department resources with the approximately 85 percent of calls that are medical-related, while leaving trucks and engines free to respond to fires.

Firefighters disagree with the plan, which will bring down the number of firefighters on each truck from four to three.

“I mean, they can say that we are crying wolf over this matter. You know, this isn’t politics here, this is safety,” said Frank Lima, president of the LA City Firefighters union.

If the plan were already in place on Monday, when firefighters were called to an apartment fire in North Hollywood where one man died, that fire would have had a different outcome, Lima said.

“Absolutely, without a doubt. Instead of one fatality and two or three injured, there would have been more fatalities at this fire,” Lima said.

Los Angeles Fire Chief Brian Cummings will return to the Board of Fire Commissioners on May 21 with a full report on his implementation plan. The fire chief has been under pressure to reduce the department’s response times.

(©2013 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)


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