LAFD divides city into 4 bureaus to improve response times

Important part of reforms to reduce response times and increase accountability

By Rick Orlov
Daily News

LOS ANGELES — In the biggest organizational change in its 128-year history, the Los Angeles Fire Department on Sunday begins dividing the city into four bureaus as a way to improve response times and accountability.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has made LAFD response times one of his top issues, said the change is designed to implement his reform agenda.

“The reorganization is an important part of the effort to reduce response times and improve public safety,” spokeswoman Vicki Curry said.

It also has the support of Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas, a 31-year LAFD veteran who was appointed to the top spot in July.

“This improvement is long overdue and critical in our efforts to maintain our position as a highly regarded fire service leader,” Terrazas said. “This reorganization will result in dramatic improvement in the department’s responsiveness to our members, the public, the business community and our elected officials.”

Councilman Mitch Englander, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee, said it will provide more direct accountability.

“Coupled with the data driven approach of FireStat, it enhances the relationship between the Fire Department and the communities they serve,” Englander said. The LAFD was the first fire agency in the nation to gather response time information and make it public.

The LAFD plan, in the works for more than a year, is modeled after the Los Angeles Police Department’s CompStat program, which divides up the city and tracks call response times.

It is designed to place one official in charge of a region to incorporate its unique geographical or logistical challenges into improving response times.

The public would then have one main point of accountability within the LAFD rather than being forced to work with different people on the same issues. It’s also meant to improve community relations, with the deputy chiefs meeting with various groups in their region.

The San Fernando Valley will become one section, along with Central, South and West bureaus.

Deputy chiefs will be responsible for all activity in their bureaus, in effect becoming the fire chief for that portion of the city. Daryl Arbuthnott is in charge of the Valley. Others are Phillip Fligiel for Central, Daren Palacios for South and Joseph Castro for West Bureau.

They will report to a Chief Deputy of Emergency Operations, with the goal building a more responsive business model than has been in place before.

The bureaus will operate during normal weekday business hours, and commanders and staff will be available 24 hours a day as needed.

“The reorganization will provide an executive point of accountability closer to the community,” Terrazas said.

FireStat, which began in October, has been able to provide some data on how long it takes for calls to be transferred, the times for paramedics or firefighters to prepare to respond and the driving time to an incident.

The deputy chiefs will provide more detailed information in the coming months as they are able to receive feedback from the various methods implemented by their bureaus.

©2015 the Daily News (Los Angeles)

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