Los Angeles County feasibility study released

Several months ago, the City Council approved the start of a feasibility study with Los Angeles County Fire that explores the option of utilizing the county for fire services.

Now that a few months have passed, the county’s feasibility study is ready. It’s important to note that this is a preliminary study conducted on behalf of Los Angeles County, so some of these figures – such as holistic costs and liabilities – aren’t detailed enough to be compared against the City’s current fire budget.

Should the City Council wish to proceed further, they may request a paid evaluation that would allow Los Angeles County Fire to detail the City’s facilities, equipment and vehicles to determine a more comprehensive cost of converting to the county.

For now, here are several general points, outlined through fire coverage, benefits, costs, and financial requirements, per the county report:

Coverage

Some broad points: Los Angeles County is providing two staffing options, with a difference in paramedic staffing coverage:

  • Option A: $6,835,199 for 2018-19
    • Fire Station 51 – three staff members to operate the paramedic assessment engine and two to operate the paramedic squad
    • Fire Station 52 – three staff members to operate the paramedic assessment engine
  • Option B: $6,737,060 for 2018-19
    • Fire Station 51 – three staff members to operate the paramedic assessment engine and two to operate the paramedic squad
    • Fire Station 52 – three to operate an engine

For comparison, here is the City’s current staffing levels:

  • Fire Station 51 – one Battalion Chief, three staff members to operate the paramedic assessment engine and two to operate the rescue ambulance
  • Fire Station 52 – three staff members to operate the paramedic assessment engine

Dispatch would be handled by Los Angeles County’s Fire Command and Control Facility, and fire hydrant inspections would be handled by Los Angeles County Fire annually.

Los Angeles County Fire does not provide ambulance transportation to local hospitals. Instead, patients are transported using a private ambulance service under contract with the Department of Health Services. Los Angeles County Fire personnel would accompany the patient in the ambulance if needed for patient care. For comparison, the City currently handles ambulance service and collects revenue from the service directly.

Finally, internal City emergency management, programs and responsibilities would remain with the City

Benefits

San Gabriel

According to the report, the City would benefit from the county’s regional and specialized resources. Since Los Angeles County Fire is a significantly larger agency, the City would have quicker access to specialized fire resources. At the moment, San Gabriel uses several mutual aid agreements that provide specialty service on an as-needed basis. The City also has agreements with the Verdugo Fire Communications alongside ambulance auto aid agreements with Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, Arcadia, San Marino and Monterey Park.

Should the City contract with the county, Los Angeles County Fire would maintain the City’s mutual aid agreements with modifications, as appropriate.

Los Angeles County Fire operates under a regional approach, and San Gabriel may also be served by the City of Rosemead, the City of Temple City as well as the unincorporated community of East San Gabriel depending on which county station can provide the quickest response. In total, there are 15 emergency response units within five miles of the City in the event of a significant incident.

Los Angeles County Fire

The county would benefit from an additional paramedic squad for the unincorporated community of East San Gabriel, the City of Rosemead and the City of Temple City. Adjacent Los Angeles County Fire coverage areas would benefit from the inclusion of Fire Station 52.

Costs

The City would be required to transfer fire equipment to the county. Both Fire Station 51 and Fire Station 52 would be occupied by Los Angeles County Fire with a lease of $1 per year per facility, and station maintenance and minor repairs would be the responsibility of the county for the first five years of the contract, with a maximum of $50,000 per station for the first year with 10% increases each year until the sixth year. All repairs in excess would be the responsibility of the City. Beginning in the sixth year, all station repairs would be the responsibility of the county, with major repairs – $100,000 and over – would be the responsibility of the City.

Financial Requirements

A contract with the county requires a minimum term of 10 years. Should the agreement be terminated by either the City or Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County Fire is not obligated to return equipment in which a monetary or in-kind credit was given to the City.

A contract would come with an annual 5.5% payment cap, which will be placed on any increases to the City’s annual fee each year for the first five years of the agreement. After five years, the payment cap would be the average of the preceding four years’ percentage increases in the annual fee plus one percent.

Finally, since the City has a negative unrestricted general fund balance, Los Angeles County Fire would require a means of ensuring payment before the county recommends annexation of the City.

The full feasibility study may be found here.