LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles city firefighters were forced to battle two brush fires in Brentwood and Sylmar last Sunday with only half their helicopter fleet.  Now, the city council wants to know how and why this happened and makes sure it does not happen again.

Of the six choppers, four dropped water, but two of the four were out for maintenance, forcing the L.A. County Fire Department to step and help.

“Mutual aid was able to help us out. But mutual aid is supposed to be something that supplements what we’re doing and not replaces what we’re doing,” said City Councilman Mike Bonin.

He and other council members filed a motion Tuesday to find out how and why this happened, saying the reduced number of helicopters affected the response to the fires.

“I’m asking for the Department of General Services and LAFD to report to us about what the problem is and how the hell we can solve it as quickly as possible,” Bonin said.

He added that the choppers require routine maintence and were due for service, but the city’s General Services Department in charge of taking care of them had not gotten around to it yet.

“The Department of General Services is working with the Los Angeles Fire Department to return as many helicopters as possible back to service as quickly as possible,” Angela Sherick-Bright, assistant general manager of fleet and fuel management for the department, said in a statement.

Bonin said the LAFD and LAPD are a priority, and service to equipment must be done with urgency.

Fortunately, the weather cooperated Sunday, and the fires did not burn out of control.

“We know we will have worse fires. We know the risk is there. So we need to be able to do better,” Bonin added.

The councilman said nevertheless firefighters did a great job, given the limited resources they had to work with.


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