As you have probably read by now, former deputy mayor and current mayoral candidate Austin Beutner recently stumbled on some shady bookkeeping by the Los Angeles Fire Department. It all started with an article Beutner wrote for the Huffington Post decrying the effect of budget cuts on core services around the city. Beutner cited a decision by the LA City Council to cut "from 3,586 to 3,239 people" and "318 firefighters" from LAFD--a move that also "prompted the reduction of resources (ambulances, fire engines and aerial ladder trucks) in 23 neighborhood fire stations." According to Beutner, those cuts, made last year, contributed to a trend of worsening performance in the response times of LAFD engines: in 2008, the LAFD arrived to the scene within five minutes 86 percent of the time, but by 2011 they arrived within five minutes only 59 percent of the time. The LAFD disputed Beutner's claims in the most unexpected way possible: by admitting that they had cooked the books in 2008. By the LAFD's reasoning, they were never actually doing that well, so they aren't doing so badly now.
Here is how the Los Angeles Times describes it: "For years, the department put out data that said rescuers arrived at medical emergencies within five minutes more than 80% of the time. But it had actually been using a six-minute time frame. LAFD statistician Capt. Mark Woolf said corrected data generated by a new computer system showed that in 2008, the department in fact hit the five-minute goal only 64% of the time and that by last year, the number had fallen to about 60%."
To help make sense of the whole deal, Beutner's campaign staff created the map below--it has embedded response times, collected from 104,000 incidents between July and October 2011, for stations throughout the city (source: LAFD Deployment Plan Analysis). The map does not really inspire confidence, in case you were wondering if there was still some left to go around.
View LAFD Response Times Map in a larger map
· How Are LAFD Emergency Response Times in Your Neighborhood? [Austin Beutner 2013]
· Better Government in Los Angeles [Huffington Post]
· L.A. Fire Department troubles are a Beutner mayoral campaign theme [LA Times]