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After controversy, Dodgers end ambulance deal with LAFD

Following criticism from city fire commissioners and union leaders, the Los Angeles Dodgers are dropping a plan to staff home games with city firefighters and ambulances.

The deal came under fire last week after LAFD officials acknowledged it required shifting on-duty units from other parts of the city and would result in some cost to taxpayers.

Dodgers spokesman Steve Brener said that amid the criticism, the team decided it was better to instead contract with a private ambulance company.

“Based on information that we have recently received from the LAFD, it appears that our objectives are not attainable,” Brener said.

Since April, the LAFD has stationed three ambulances at each Dodgers home game to provide medical care. But a contract making that arrangement official was never approved.

Fire officials originally said there would be no cost to taxpayers because the units at Dodger Stadium would be staffed by off-duty firefighters who would be paid overtime by the Dodgers.

But last week LAFD officials acknowledged they have reassigned on-duty firefighters from other parts of the city for 13 games because too few firefighters had volunteered to work the games. A draft agreement with the Dodgers would have only paid for the time firefighters spend at the stadium, leaving the city to pay for moving the units to and from Chavez Ravine.

Following those disclosures, city fire commissioners, including board President Genethia Hudley-Hayes, suggested they would not approve the deal until the LAFD struck more favorable terms. The head of the union that represents rank-and-file firefighters also criticized the arrangement, calling for it to be terminated.

In the past, the Dodgers contracted with a private service to provide medical care at the team’s home games. The draft contract’s total cost to the city had not been calculated. But fire officials had defended the arrangement, arguing that serving the stadium’s large crowds — which can swell to more than 50,000 — is part of the department’s mission.

A spokesman for the Fire Department said in the end, there wasn't a large enough pool of off-duty firefighters to draw from. The department hasn't hired a new firefighter in nearly five years, but will train a new class of firefighters next year. Spokesman Armando Hogan said at that point, the department may pursue a contract with the Dodgers again.

"We remain interested in providing public safety services in the future," Hogan said. He also thanked the team "for the opportunity for this public-private collaboration."

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Twitter: @katelinthicum@palewire

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

ben.welsh@latimes.com

 

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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