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Sunday, October 10, 2010

City Management Explains Budget Impact on Fire Department


The City of Long Beach has released the following statement regarding our Fire Department: 

Fire and Medical response times continue to meet the City’s response standards.
Our Fire Department’s response time standard, based on the national standard, is "To arrive on scene of an emergency call within 6 minutes 90% of the time." The department monitors system performance and makes changes based on this standard. Currently, our average response time is less than 5 minutes to emergency calls, an excellent response time for a large department.
In order to offset the pay increase taken by the Firefighters’ Association (FFA), the new service model reduces one engine company per day, while managing responses with the City’s 17 other engines companies, four fire trucks, and eight paramedic/rescues.
The engine reduction is necessary in order to offset the pay increase taken by the firefighters. The engine reduction is managed by removing one engine from service each day from stations that have more than one response unit. This is not a station closure. This service model will ensure at least one unit is assigned at every station throughout the City, allowing the unit to respond from the station, while other units respond from surrounding stations, if needed. This practice is similar to how our Fire Department manages daily operations such as when units are at training, deployed to major fire events or otherwise out of service. For example, in the area surrounding downtown Engines 6, 2, 10, 20, 24 and 3 are all able to respond to fire incidents, if needed. While the engine company was not in service at Station 1 on October 7, Station 1 had a fully staffed Truck and a fully staffed Paramedic Rescue to respond to calls for service.
These service reductions are not a result of a "budget cut;" rather, they are a result of pay increases to the FAA.
Our Fire Department’s budget has not decreased from last year; rather, this year, the City is obligated to pay an additional $2.3 million in firefighter salary increases. As there is no additional money to pay for those raises, service levels must change in order to maintain a responsibly balanced budget. The City tried to avoid the engine reduction by asking the FFA to fully offset the costs of these raises. Unfortunately, while our firefighters negotiated in good faith, an agreement could not be reached.
The City is willing to accept a "dollar for dollar" FFA giveback to restore the engine.
The City continues to engage in discussions with the Firefighters’ Association. As the FFA was previously willing to give up $1.7 million in salary increases, the City will accept those givebacks (subject to negotiations) and "dollar for dollar" restore services.

  • 23 fire stations, including 4 within the Port, and 1 serving the airport

  • 17 engines (each with 4 firefighters)

  • 8 Paramedic / Rescue units (each with 2 firefighter/paramedics)

  • 4 trucks (3 with 4 firefighters, and 1 downtown with 5 firefighters)

  • 1 Engine/Truck Light Force (with 6 firefighters)

  • 5 Basic Life Support Ambulances during the day and 3 at night (2 EMTs)

  • 2 Fire Boats and 3 Rescue Boats (year-round)

  • Save Station 18

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