The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $4.5-million plan Tuesday to reduce the strain on the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which responds to devastating incidents such as the Woolsey fire but also provides 24-hour emergency services across 2,300 square miles.
The new effort comes months after the board raised concerns about the department’s aging stations and equipment, and weeks after the Woolsey fire burned more than 90,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The supervisors said the fire has highlighted a new reality for the department: It must respond to wildfires in an era of drought conditions and prolonged periods of dry, windy weather while also providing emergency medical services to 4 million county residents.
“This new normal has propelled me to ask whether our Fire Department has what it needs," said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who took over as board chairwoman Tuesday.
The board’s move also comes amid new scrutiny about the department’s payroll after the county’s chief executive officer, Sachi Hamai, asked the auditor-controller to examine its overtime practices.