LA Fire Dept. Negotiating to Provide EMS For Dodgers

March 19, 2013
LAFD is one step closer to providing two ALS rescue ambulances and one BLS rescue ambulance and a captain to replace a private firm for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

March 18--At a time when the Los Angeles Fire Department is cutting back services and has been criticized for slow response times, it is negotiating an agreement to replace a private firm to provide ambulance services for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The United Firefighters of Los Angeles City announced on its website that is has signed off on a letter of agreement for the plan to provide payment of overtime for staffing of two ALS rescue ambulances, one BLS rescue ambulance and a fire captain to oversee the crews.

But LAFD spokesman Chief Armando Hogan said no final agreement has been reached.

"There are ongoing discussions, but no final determination has been made," Hogan said.

The proposal, scheduled to last through the 2013 season, caught some city officials by surprise.

Councilman Mitch Englander, chair of the Public Safety Committee, said he had not been advised of the proposal and he wants to review it.

"This is the first I've heard of it," Englander said. "But, I have to say I'm not surprised. The department has a habit of operating independently. I don't know if they can make those kind of contractual obligations without going through the City Attorney and City Council."

Englander said among his concerns is the impact of the contract on staffing at the city stations and the overall impact on the LAFD budget.

"We will be asking those

questions and try to get answers," Englander said.

Another factor is the City Charter. It prohibits city agencies from engaging in "any purely commercial or industrial enterprise" unless a majority of city voters approves it.

But Raphael Sonenshein, executive director at the Pat Brown Institute at California State University, Los Angeles, who worked on the new City Charter, said the provision was meant to keep the city from creating a new private business.

"It would take a vote of the people to do that, but something like this could be considered as part of the city's core business," Sonenshein said. "It's not like they were creating a department store that would compete with other stores."

The Dodgers have had a contract for a number of years with American Medical Response. Officials with the company said they would not comment on the contract with the Dodgers.

Dodgers spokesman Steve Brenner said the team had been looking at bids for ambulance service and its security staff recommended it make a deal with the LAFD.

"This won't cost the taxpayers anything," Brenner said. "We are hiring firefighters who are off-duty and paying them what they would get in overtime. This doesn't mean we won't be using other vendors for different events, such as the kids marathon. This is strictly for Dodger games."

Brenner said the LAFD already is involved in providing transport at least once a game for injuries occurring outside the stadium itself.

A spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said his office would have no comment on the proposal.

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Copyright 2013 - Daily News, Los Angeles

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