The union representing rank-and-file Los Angeles city firefighters has called on the LAFD to end its agreement to provide ambulances at Dodger Stadium home games, an arrangement that has come under fire since officials acknowledged it required shifting on-duty units from other parts of the city and would ask taxpayers to foot part of the bill.
Since spring, the LAFD has stationed three ambulances at Dodgers home games to provide medical care. The department planned to prevent the city from paying the cost by staffing the units with off-duty firefighters who volunteered to be paid overtime by the Dodgers.
However, fire officials said Tuesday they have reassigned on-duty firefighters from other parts of the city for 13 games due to a lack of volunteers. They also reported that the terms of a draft agreement hammered out with the Dodgers would cover only the time firefighters spend at the stadium, leaving the city to pay for moving the units to and from the team’s home in Chavez Ravine.
“Shut 'em down,” said Capt. Frank Lima, president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, which represents more than 3,000 LAFD firefighters. “A little overtime to our members isn’t worth our integrity and compromising firefighter safety, community safety or the budget.”
The union’s opposition follows criticism of the draft contract from city fire commissioners, including board President Genethia Hudley-Hayes, who suggested that the board would not approve the deal until the LAFD strikes more favorable terms.
In the past, the Dodgers contracted with a private ambulance service to work the team’s home games. The draft contract’s total cost to the city still has not been calculated; but fire officials defended the arrangement, arguing that serving the stadium’s large crowds -- which can swell to greater than 50,000 -- is part of the department’s mission.
“There is a minimal cost to the city and sometimes we have had to close an ambulance,” Fire Chief Brian Cummings said at Tuesday’s commission meeting. “But the question here is what we're getting for that small cost. Is it worth it to the public safety?”