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Scare Tactics or Harsh Reality? Proposed LAFD Budget Cuts Sparking Ire

Photo by Chris Yarzab via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
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How can the Los Angeles Fire Department spend less without compromising the invaluable services they provide to residents? Budget cuts to the department as proposed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa call for the permanent closure of 30 fire trucks and paramedic units and the elimination of 300 firefighters, according to KPCC. However, the plan is being met with resistance, including from the firefighters' union, whose president says the cuts will lead to "unnecessary deaths."

Residents who live in regions that still bear the scars of recent massive fires fear that cutting even just one engine from their local station would impact the response time when their area is struck with a blaze. Already the LAFD is looking at ways to use fewer resources in response to some calls in order to help downsizing, including going down to a single engine.

Fewer engines means response time to emergencies could be slowed, and critics of the deep budget cuts and the proposed shrinkage believe that could prove to be deadly. "Those delayed responses will lead to unnecessary deaths," firefighters union president Pat McOsker said. In response, Villaraigosa says McOsker is using "scare tactics" to address the matter.

Others, including City Councilman Greig Smith, who sits on the budget committee, and Fire Captain Jaime Moore acknowledge that response time has been, and will be, affected because of budget cuts, but that so far that has not had dire consequences. However, among the City Council, while a few are pointing out concerns, "none have offered alternative cuts [to the LAFD] to help remedy a city budget deep in the red."