LAFD emergency response times: Expert to address Fire Commission
Los Angeles fire commissioners will hear Tuesday from the author of a new report that says emergency response times provided by fire officials cannot be trusted because of errors in the way they were calculated.
In his report, first made public Monday, statistician Jeff Godown recommended an overhaul of the unit that analyzes emergency response times for the Los Angeles Fire Department and called on the department to stop using a data-analyzing software program that he said is problematic.
"I am not confident that the data represented by the department's reports is accurate," Godown wrote.
A nationally recognized expert in statistics, Godown was brought in two months ago by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to help restore public confidence in the Fire Department after fire officials admitted that for years they had been putting out performance data that made it appear they were getting to emergencies faster than they actually were.
After inquiries from The Times, fire officials released new numbers that they said were accurate. But Godown's report, which he sent to Villaraigosa's office last week, calls the revised numbers into question, saying the process used to generate them was plagued by errors and inconsistencies.
"Both computer and human errors were discovered," he wrote.
The report noted that two firefighters responsible for preparing reports have "limited training and understanding of the data analysis process."
As part of the recommended overhaul, the report calls for creating guidelines for handling data, hiring two new civilian employees and creating a new unit modeled on the LAPD's COMPSTAT program, which Godown once headed.
Godown told The Times his report was a 30-day initial assessment and that he planned to prepare a follow-up report in a month.
Villaraigosa is scheduled to meet with Fire Chief Brian Cummings to discuss the report Tuesday afternoon. The Fire Commission meets at 9 a.m.
-- Robert J. Lopez, Ben Welsh and Kate Linthicum
Photo: A Los Angeles Fire Department engine. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times