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L.A. firefighters say proposed budget cuts threaten their ability to battle brush fires

Los Angeles firefighters and mechanics Friday said that budget cuts and proposed furloughs would severely affect the ability of firefighters to battle brush fires in the coming months.

Fire Department mechanics are leaving for higher-paying jobs elsewhere and with a hiring freeze in place, the shortage of mechanics means it takes up to four months – instead of one -- to repair firetrucks and ambulances, said Pat McOsker, a Los Angeles firefighter and president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City.

He said that with the city's proposed 26 furlough days, he feared it would be an even longer wait to have vehicles repaired. Through attrition and hiring freezes, the department is already down 25 positions in fleet services, from 97.

"We are on the cusp of brush fire season," said McOsker, who has worked 30 years for LAFD. "This is a disaster waiting to happen."

McOsker said that at his San Pedro station, there is a truck that has a disconnected foam pump. The light on top of the rig is broken. The brakes need to be adjusted.

The department dips into its reserve fleet when trucks are under repair, but 25% of those vehicles are out of service, he said. In total, about 70% of the department's fleet is out of service, he said.

"If we keep cutting mechanics' hours, our firefighters might have to go back to an old-fashioned bucket brigade when fire season hits in the coming weeks," said Tony Mastrolia, a mechanic at the Avenue 19 garage.

-- My-Thuan Tran

 
Comments () | Archives (7)

Here's an idea: cut the salary for firefighters by 10% and then use those funds to hire additional mechanics. Sounds like a win-win.

This is another example of misguided priorities of Sacramento. I believe they would rather fight for their jobs on a political level vs. cut spending and support their primary reason for having a job in the first place.. public safety.

Four months to repair a truck? Sounds like it is time to either contract out that work or buy more fire trucks. Trucks are a lot cheaper than firemen nowadays if you add up all the costs (pension/health care/insurance).

I am tired for firefighters saying cuts affect their ability to fight brush fires! They make enough money throughout the years sitting on their behinds. The non fire fighting staff are paid peanuts and their are few positions. Those firemen need to stop hiding behind the "hero mask". There are too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. And, they make 99% of their salary at 55. Whatever I am not falling for this one again.

Hey lets cut your pay by 10 percent to fund LAFD.

The Mayor and City Council will cut public safety and emergency services instead of cutting their ridiculous salaries, perks, pet projects, etc, etc... Ask them how many of THEM are taking a pay cut, giving up the City-owned vehicles issued to their Council offices, asking for less money for their "discretionary" funds...see how they wiggle around answering that.

I've got an idea-how about stopping the joy riding that engines and pumpers do all the time.

Go to the beach sometime and see all the fire units scoping out the girls. Or go to Home Depot, Costco, or the Ralphs.

It might be fun to see how many miles a truck is driven annually, then compare it to the logs of calls for that truck.

Might discover that if they stayed at the station house we wouldn't have 70% of our trucks broken!!!!

Jay


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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