As Federal Funds for Training Firefighters Shrink, Pasadena’s Fire Dept. Proposes Solution

Published : Monday, February 4, 2019 | 5:32 AM

The Pasadena Fire Department wants to change the way it funds training for its personnel in the wake of reduced federal money for the critical function.

The City Council on Monday will discuss a Fire Dept. proposal to join a new Joint Powers Authority setup which could potentially increase its training capabilities and regional influence.

For over a decade, Pasadena firefighters have been training under the county-wide Regional Training Group (RTG), established by the Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association (LAAFCA) which is composed of the fire chiefs of 30 fire agencies in Los Angeles County.

The RTG has been providing the critical training requirements for first responders in the county, including Pasadena, and has been remarkable in attaining training goals compared to what independent fire departments could accomplish on their own, according to a Pasadena Fire Department report.

Over the past three years, however, the Department of Homeland Security, the RTG’s main funding sources, has reduced grants to the RTG by about $60 million, the report said.

To be able to obtain sufficient funding, the RTG is transitioning to a Joint Powers Authority, to be known officially as the Los Angeles Area Training Group, which will establish itself as “its own governmental agency and enable it to apply, administer and host its own grant programs,” according to the report.

“The PFD (Pasadena Fire Department) would like to continue participation within the RTG under the newly established JPA, purposed to provide innovative and cooperative regional training even as federal funds diminish,” Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington said. “The JPA will be able to receive and expend funds, enter into legally binding agreements, acquire property and equipment, hire personnel, and perform other activities that promote the purposes and benefits identified within the agreement.”
To take part in the new JPA setup, the Pasadena Fire Department is seeking a resolution from the Pasadena City Council that would authorize its membership in the Los Angeles Area Regional Training Group Joint Powers Authority (RTG JPA). Being a member would allow the fire department to participate in a regional effort to integrate resources and information related to training firefighters and researching fire protection and safety issues that are crucial to the City and its surrounding population, the fire department said.

Fire Chief Washington said the City Attorney has reviewed the contents of the proposed JPA resolution.

Additionally, 15 of the 30 cities in Los Angeles have already approved the JPA resolution, and if Pasadena becomes an early adopter, Fire Chief Washington will become a member of the JPA’s Board of Directors and will help determine critical aspects of the JPA.

Directors can approve expenditures for resources including equipment, services and employees. The member agencies, like Pasadena Fire, will also be asked to approve bylaws and guidelines for the JPA, develop policies and strategies for regional training, create a budget and comprehensive plan for funding, and establish committees as needed.

To approve the Pasadena Fire Department’s desire to become a member of the JPA, the City Council will also need to authorize the City Manager to take such reasonable action as required, including signing the JPA resolution, on the City’s behalf.

Earlier Monday, the City Council’s Public Safety Committee is scheduled to take up the proposed resolution before recommending it to the full City Council.