2020 Funding Priorities
City resources are finite. Demands on the Los Angeles Fire Department ("LAFD") are seemingly endless. The men and women of the LAFD have immediate funding needs for gear, equipment, and programs that help keep them safe in the line of duty.
These needs range from resources for wildfire season and widespread emergencies, to equipment for everyday incidents and specialty units.
Approximately 97% of the city’s budget for the LAFD goes towards personnel costs, leaving just 3% to fund essential equipment, new technology and training programs.
Our Foundation works directly with LAFD leadership to identify critical funding gaps and provides ways for the public to help.
Donations are channeled directly into tools and tangible resources that help save lives. Donor dollars are spent swiftly and responsibly, making an immediate impact where they are needed most.
The LAFD Foundation is actively seeking funds to equip our LAFD firefighters with the following:
BRUSH CLEARANCE TOOLS + EQUIPMENT
Clearing brush, cutting fire roads and creating natural barriers in anticipation of fire season can save homes and lives. The process is labor-intensive and exhausting. These rugged kits are specially designed to help firefighters and ground crews cut through brush and remove potential fuel sources.
Engineered to the rigorous performance specs of the LAFD, these chainsaws and hand tools allow our firefighters to cut,dig and scrape away brush down to the soil to create linear “breaks” or gaps in vegetation to help with fire containment. These tools are also used year-round for brush clearance and fire prevention.
Each kit is comprised of a variety of tools and protective equipment. The main components are:
This specialized chainsaw is lightweight for easy maneuverability, and extra sturdy to cut through logs, fallen tree limbs and heavy brush.
This lightweight shovel is ideal for cutting through tree limbs and brush, digging out burning material, throwing soil on flaming fuel and scraping combustible material down to mineral soil.
This modified shovel can clear land quickly and is ideal for chipping and cutting through grass and brush. The Rhino is lightweight, extremely durable and helps to minimize firefighter fatigue.
The Pulaski is a special hand tool, part axe and part adze blade. The Pulaski is especially hand in creating fire breaks - sections of land devoid of vegetation which can help contain brush fires. Firefighters chop down trees with the axe side, cutting away roots and shrubs and dig barriers with with the adze blade.
Brush clearance kits also include important safety equipment from protective eye wear, to Kevlar chaps for the chainsaw operators.
Photo by Rick McClure
STRUCTURE FIRE GLOVES
Last year, the Foundation achieved its goal of providing two pairs of wildland gloves to each firefighter, ensuring their ability to be well-equipped for the fire season.
The LAFD provides various sets of gloves for each firefighter and each pair have a specific use or purpose. This includes general work gloves, gloves for wildfire operations, tactical gloves for search and rescue, and structure gloves.
Structure gloves are used during residential fires, commercial fires, and high-rise fires. Structure fires present some of the most challenging and dangerous working conditions imaginable. High heat, flames, and toxic smoke from furniture and building materials create a risk-filled environment requiring the ultimate in fire protection.
Their current structure fire gloves are nearing the end of their service life after nearly a decade of use. While this model holds up well to heat and direct flame, the lack of flexibility and dexterity hinder job performance, especially when the gloves become water-logged. Sizing and fit also limits a firefighter’s optimal performance.
The LAFD tested a variety of gloves and identified three models that meet the department’s industry-leading standards for safety and performance. However, the LAFD lacks the budget flexibility to begin replacing the aging gloves, meaning this equipment will stay in use beyond its service life, if not for help from the Foundation.
For the first time in the LAFD’s 153 years of existence, firefighters will be given a choice of three different structure fire glove options. These gloves offer maximum grip and dexterity while protecting against exposure to chemicals, carcinogens, heat and direct flame. Each pair features:
- A fluid and moisture blocking inner layer;
- A thermal liner for heat protection; and
- A special flame-impingement outer layer.
All three models are available in various sizes (including widths) to ensure a proper fit, are made in the USA.
UAS AIRCRAFT ("DRONES") AND EQUIPMENT
The LAFD Unmanned Aerial Systems Program (“UAS”) is the forward-thinking unit bringing drone technology to the firefighting forefront.
UAS drones are deployed for a variety of incident types, including structure fires, brush and wildfires, swift water rescues, hazmat operations, and search and rescue missions.
Drones can be equipped with high definition cameras, thermal (heat) imaging, gas monitoring sensors, and other tools that give incident commanders real-time data for improved situational analysis and decision making.
Equipment costs and aging technology are the two greatest challenges inhibiting the growth of the UAS Program. Deployment time can also be a drawback, depending on incident location and UAS pilot/aircraft availability.
The LAFD is endeavoring to add the Pierce Situational Awareness System to each of its 14 battalions. This new drone system would give the LAFD a new deployable resource for nearly every type of incident within minutes of arriving on scene.
Having these drones would remediate the downtime of calling-in pilots and aircraft from pre-positioned staging areas. Short flight times and battery life limitations associated with traditional drones would also be eliminated since these drone systems are tethered to and integrate directly with the fire apparatus or incident command vehicles.
A single button-push rapidly deploys the drone, giving incident commanders a set of eyes in the sky to evaluate the situation, assess risks, and monitor safety threats not visible from the ground.
The new system would allow operators to live stream and document mission-critical aerial views without the need for flight authorization (as currently required for all standard UAS drone flights).
The LAFD’s Wildland Fuel Management Unit is requesting funding for two Caterpillar D3 Skid Steers. The D3 is a small and versatile operating vehicle that can use multiple attachments to address specific needs.
The primary use for this vehicle is to assist with brush clearance in hillside neighborhoods where thick brush vegetation make access difficult for standard bulldozers.
The D3 can maneuver around electric poles, aid in debris removal, and provide access and assist with large animal rescue. It is also useful for commercial fires that require extensive amounts of labor to extinguish.
The D3 is a force-multiplier that can clear brush and create fire breaks in a fraction of the time it manual hand crews. Communities like Hollywood Hills, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Griffith Park, Sylmar, La Tuna Canyon would benefit from the LAFD’s ability to deploy these Skid Steers on narrow roads and steep terrain.
PROTECTING OUR FIREFIGHTERS FROM COVID-19
The LAFD has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic since its onset in March. When it became evident that firefighters were depleting PPE supplies at a rapid rate, the Foundation helped secure personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies for the department.
Unfortunately, the pandemic is showing no signs of slowing. It appears the LAFD’s heightened safety protocols and increased precautionary steps will be in effect for the foreseeable future.
Funding is needed to replenish the LAFD’s PPE as well as support any changes in normal department operations such as supporting training and communications needs that need to be reconfigured due to the pandemic guidelines.
In the event donations exceed the LAFD’s coronavirus-related needs, any remaining funds will be used to purchase important safety equipment for the upcoming wildfire season.