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Downey's mayor and city manager have responded to the Downey Firemen's Association, which last week announced it had "no confidence" in fire chief Lonnie Croom after the city council chose not to proceed with a plan to contract its fire and emergency medical services with L.A. County.
The fire union alleged Croom "deliberately distorted and misrepresented the facts and figures" contained in a feasibility study prepared by the L.A. County Fire District and presented to the city council last month.
In a letter signed by Mayor Mario Guerra and city manager Gilbert Livas, the city disputes that claim.
"The Downey City Council's unanimous policy decision to maintain the City's own Fire Department was based purely upon the facts presented in the County Survey, which proposed a permanent reduction in the number of firefighters on duty in the City," says the letter addressed to Steve Davis, president of the Downey Firemen's Association.
"The City Council cannot make long-term decisions based upon short-term crises. Moreover, safety is always paramount, which is why it is clear that the County's proposal was not on equal footing with the City's current service."
"After working with Fire Chief Croom to bring [Engine 61] back into service, hire 12 new firefighters, negotiate for a new fire station, spend over $1 million on new fire equipment, champion the promotions of a significant number of Downey firefighters, and double the amount of paramedics, it is disappointing that the Fire Union would now not work together with Chief Croom to continue to improve service delivery to our residents."
Downey fire officials have maintained the issue is not about contracting with L.A. County but rather "providing the best service for the people of Downey."
"L.A. County has 58 contract cities and it's proven to be effective operationally when speed counts," Capt. Jorge Villanueva said last month. "We're watching our call volumes go up and our resources shrink...where are we going to be 10 years from now?"