Fire Study Background
The City engaged a third-party consultant, Messina and Associates, to evaluate a report provided by LA County Fire on the services they could provide to La Verne and the associated costs, as well as to conduct an analysis of the City’s current fire operations by the La Verne Fire Department (LVFD). Messina and Associates completed their analysis, culminating in the release of the
City of La Verne Fire Department Service Deployment Review (Review)
The fundamental findings of the Review surface a key question for the Council’s consideration and represents a fork in the road for options for the community: shift to a highly functional fire department in a relatively short time frame with a move to LA County Fire but experience increased costs for services; or, maintain local control of the City’s fire services and spend additional funds to implement reforms, improve staffing levels and address an array of management issues.
The Review was initially discussed by the mayor and council members at the August 25, 2020 City Council Meeting. Understanding the significance of this matter to the community, during this meeting the Council committed to:
- Finding the best fire service delivery model possible to satisfy both the needs and interests of the La Verne community, while also acknowledging that no solution will be perfect.
- Exploring additional fire service delivery models beyond what is covered in the Review, including reaching out to LA County Fire on the feasibility of creating a hybrid service model that leverages the strengths that both LVFD and LA County Fire have to offer.
- Engaging with LVFD firefighters and the La Verne Firefighters’ Association to gain an understanding of their position on the matter and establish a collaborative path forward.
After a month-long public feedback period from the community on the findings of the
over 120 comments were received, which were presented to the Council at their meeting on November 2, 2020. Also included in this report was an update on the research conducted on additional potential alternative service models with the LA County Fire District. At the November 2, 2020 meeting, the Council authorized City staff to begin negotiations with LA County Fire related to contracting fire and emergency services.
At their February 16, 2021 meeting, the City Council determined that, if LA County’s fire services contract terms are favorable, the decision to move forward with these services will need to be ratified by La Verne voters during the June 2022 election before being finalized.
In the meantime, the City of La Verne is currently waiting for the County of Los Angeles to send fire services contract terms for review and consideration by the Council. During this same time, LA County Fire is also conducting a detailed analysis of La Verne's current resources to determine the costs of conversion facilities and equipment.
How La Verne Residents Can Keep Updated
Residents and other stakeholders are encouraged to check LVFireStudy.org for updates and follow the City's social media channels. Additionally, updates on this process will be provided periodically at City Council meetings, which allows for public comment and questions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Download a PDF of the FAQs here.
What is the Fire Department Service Deployment Review (Review)?
The Review evaluates La Verne Fire Department (LVFD) services and provides a high-level overview of potential service options with either LA County Fire or remaining a stand-alone department as LVFD. The analysis was conducted by a third-party consultant under an agreement with the City, and the choice of Messina and Associates was mutually identified by both the City and the La Verne Firefighters’ Association as a qualified reviewer.
What role did LA County Fire Department have in reviewing or evaluating fire services in La Verne?
In June 2019 the City requested an initial evaluation from the Consolidated Fire Protection District of Los Angeles County (aka LA County Fire) to gain a better understanding of the services they could provide to La Verne and the associated costs. After LA County Fire’s report was received in April 2020, Messina and Associates was hired to evaluate LA County Fire's report and conduct an analysis of the City’s current fire operations.
What is the benefit of switching to LA County Fire service delivery model?
The LA County Fire service delivery model would provide a highly functional All-Risk* fire department immediately upon the transition of services from LVFD. Deploying this model would resolve ongoing issues currently facing LVFD with minimal intervention on the part of the City. However, when all fiscal impacts are considered, the annual cost of service provided by LA County Fire is greater than that of the LVFD under its current deployment model.
*All Risk refers to the fact that firefighters are now tasked with fire prevention and suppression, as well as providing emergency and medical services to residents.
What is the benefit of keeping the LVFD service delivery model?
The LVFD service delivery model allows for local control to be maintained over the City’s fire services. This local control of fire services, in turn, directly impacts the scalability of resources and services, as well as budget. In order for this service model to have the best chance of success, however, key stakeholders would need to commit to implementing a number of reforms.
What are the internal challenges and issues faced by LVFD that need to be addressed?
Key stakeholders would need to commit to addressing the following areas for the best chance of success with providing fire and emergency medical services through LVFD: shift in LVFD culture; development of new master and strategic plans; fire chief recruitment; creation of a leadership development and employee succession program; and new employee recruitment and retention strategies.
Is the current LVFD understaffed to serve our community?
Since 2017, LVFD started experiencing employee retention and recruitment issues which have had a significant impact on its ability to maintain the constant staffing levels required by its current service delivery model. Due to the difficulties surrounding recruitment of new employees along with retention of current employees, LVFD has had to implement temporary adjustments to its service delivery model.
Will the level of fire and emergency services and response times change with any of LA County Fire or LVFD options provided in the Review?
While additional analysis would need to be conducted to determine exact numbers, the goal would be to have both LA County Fire and LVFD fire and emergency service deployment options meet minimum guidelines for staffing levels and response times.
What is the cost difference between LA County Fire and LVFD services?
The cost to the City’s General Fund would be greater with the LA County Fire service delivery model than with the LVFD model. As an example of this cost difference, for FY 20-21 LVFD would cost about $7.7 million and LA County Fire would cost $7.9 million, while in FY 22-23 the cost is projected to be about $8.2 million for LVFD and $8.8 million for LA County Fire. While the projected comparative cost difference changes year to year, a portion of this increased cost stems from the 5.5% annual cost increase outlined in the feasibility study submitted by LA County Fire.
Which service deployment option do our La Verne firefighters want?
The La Verne City Council and Staff are committed to engaging with the La Verne Fire Department firefighters and the La Verne Firefighters’ Association to gain an understanding of their position on the issue and establish a collaborative path forward. To help accomplish this, Councilmember Davis and Councilmember Crosby have been designated as representatives to meet and work with these stakeholders.
What is the difference between the La Verne Fire Department and the La Verne Firefighters’ Association?
The La Verne Fire Department (LVFD) is the branch of the City of La Verne that provides the community with local fire protection and emergency services. The La Verne Firefighters’ Association is the labor association or union that represents the firefighters of the LVFD.
The following are official documents related to the Fire Department Service Deployment Review. Each document can be viewed/downloaded as a PDF for your convenience.