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NEW LOOK URGED AT DISPATCH PLAN LAFD MAY BE ABLE TO SHARE WITH POLICE.

Byline: Dan Laidman Staff Writer

A new dispatch center for the Los Angeles Fire Department may be unnecessary, leaving the city with $50 million to $70 million in potential savings, Controller Laura Chick said Tuesday.

Fieldwork for an audit of the Fire Department turned up questions about whether the agency truly needs the dispatch center, part of a $127 million public safety complex being built in Little Tokyo.

``It is in the city's economic interest to expeditiously, yet thoroughly, evaluate the potential of LAFD utilizing available capacity within the two existing (Los Angeles Police Department) communication centers,'' Chick wrote in a letter to the mayor and City Council. ``This should be completed before further financial commitments are made for a new dispatch center.''

Fire Department officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But they have previously touted the benefits of having fire dispatchers located alongside dispatchers for police and emergency-preparedness operations, as well as a new Little Tokyo fire station.

``These synergistic multirole emergency-response and support facilities will bring convenience and efficiency to a diverse and essential work force that looks forward to not only serving, but being active in, the community,'' reads an entry about the new complex on the Fire Department's Web site.

Fire dispatchers currently work in space that officials consider outdated in the basement of a city building downtown.

Rather than create an entirely new work space, however, Chick's consultant, Kurt Sjoberg, said fire dispatchers could move into two LAPD facilities.

Between its downtown and San Fernando Valley dispatch sites, the LAPD has sufficient extra space to absorb the fire dispatchers, wrote Sjoberg, a former state auditor.

City leaders broke ground on the public safety complex in January, touting it as a key nerve center in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The fire dispatch center would occupy one floor, and the Emergency Preparedness Department and Police Department would have operations centers on another.

A change to the fire dispatch plan would not have any significant effect on the emergency operations portion of the project, said Ellis Stanley, general manager of the Emergency Preparedness Department.

Dan Laidman, (213) 978-0390

dan.laidman(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 15, 2006
Words:362
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