Sunday, October 17, 2010

L.A. County is the Better Option

Simply put, L.A. County Fire Department is the better option for the City of El Segundo. The current understanding is that El Segundo staffs 19 firefighters per day. This standard no longer exists. Due to budget cuts and a "run short" mandate from City Council, the staffing level has dropped as low as 14 firefighters per day. This should be a major concern to the resident and business owner. The benefits of L.A. County services far outweigh those of the local El Segundo Fire Department. Here are some main reasons why L.A. County is the right choice.

"L.A. County has more paramedic services available to El Segundo."
  • This is true because on top of the paramedics that will be staffed in the city of El Segundo, there are more available from the surrounding districts ready for immediate move-up if the rescue squad is transporting out of the city. Currently, if both rescues are out of the city, then a private ambulance or another city's rescue has to be called into the city which is a huge delay factor. With the County model, there is no lag-time in communication for additional resources.
"By transferring service to L.A. County the City WILL save money."
  • There is about a 5 million dollar savings. The cost of doing business with the County can and most likely will rise over the next ten years, but have you realized that the city is no longer responsible for worker's compensation claims, pensions, overtime, equipment maintenance, etc... And...the cost of living rises as well, it is not as if the 16 million dollar budget for our local department today will be the 16 million dollar budget in 2020 if we stay El Segundo. The cost of running our own local department will rise as well over the next ten years. L.A. County Fire is cheaper service because of the scale of economies, not because they lack skills or training. They are an efficient economic model that works, which has been constructed around a recession proof structure. Whereas our city is struggling to provide the expected equipment and staffing, and are now willing to levy dangerously low staffing and reduced service to its residents.  Not only is it a savings if we contract with the County, but El Segundo would receive equivalent and in some cases better service.
"L.A. County is a more efficient service to the community."
  • The County model is more efficient because of the contiguous training and communication throughout the district. This allows for better functionality, service and quicker responses. 
"L.A. County has more personnel available for any type of incident."
  • Referring to my earlier post, L.A. County seemingly has an endless supply of resources. With El Segundo being a high target hazard and possibility for large incidents, the L.A. County Fire Department is the best choice for protection. Many like to think we live in a bedroom community but we are surrounded by highly dangerous hazards from jet fuel pipelines under our streets, Chevron, high rises, etc...
"There are more L.A. County Firefighters that live in El Segundo." 
  • Many like the notion that their firefighters live in town, and I can understand that mentality. It instills a sense of citizenship and vested interest. There are many L.A. County Firefighters that live in El Segundo and would most likely transfer to this city.
    "Other services in the City can be revived with the immediate savings to the City."
    • Parks and Rec, Streets, Fairs, Parades, etc... all can be revived with the monies saved with County service. Jobs are also saved; saved services means saved jobs.
    "If there's a natural disaster or terrorist attack, L.A. County has the resources to protect the city."
    • Some speculate that if there is a major natural disaster or terrorist attack, that L.A. County Fire would leave El Segundo and aid other cities. This is a farce and most likely a scare tactic from opposing views. L.A. County has the appropriate resources for such an event and in fact they are more prepared than our current department; not training wise, but equipment and personnel wise. El Segundo will receive the same if not more attention in the event of a disaster.
    "County provides the very same department culture that the residents are used to, there is always an open door."
    • The County Fire Department adapts to the community they are serving. They continue to do the pancake breakfasts, Richmond Street fairs, CPR Saturdays, etc... They make it their mission to involve themselves and adapt to the community they serve. L.A. County is not a generic substitute, and there has been nothing but praise and satisfaction from other cities who have contracted with the County.
    Let me be understood that I have always loved our local fire department. It is made up of some the best individuals around and I believe they do not deserve the criticism they have endured from alarmists and arrogant bloggers. County is the best solution NOW. It will allow the city to thrive and build through this beleaguered economy, it lifts the burden of pensions and workforce liabilities, it reduces political entanglements, and simplifies local government. 

    There are pros and cons in every decision, the point here is that the reasons for transferring service are more important than holding on to our local department. L.A. County's attitude is not to take over but to work harmoniously with the city they serve, just like every firefighter, anywhere, believes.

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