George Edwards
Shauna Clark

Update: November 13, 2010 - City Manager Shauna Clark acknowledged that she was mistaken in saying the entire City received Automatic Aid from Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The County Fire Department Public Information Officer did confirm to us that they are negotiating with La Habra Heights on a revised Automatic Aid.

As the November 9, 2010 City Council Meeting was winding down, resident George Edwards presented some information about fire services during the "Public Comments" part of the meeting.

He related that only a portion of La Habra Heights receives "Automatic Aid" from Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Automatic Aid sends the closest available response to an address even if that is from outside the jurisdiction (city).

In the case of La Habra Heights, an Automatic Aid agreement was signed in 2007 between La Habra Heights and Los Angeles County, with a memorandum of understanding delineating where each would respond.

In return for La Habra Heights being the first responders to La Habra & Whittier north of Whittier Blvd (Green Area below), Los Angeles County Fire Department responds first from their East Whittier station to calls in the far west of La Habra Heights (Orange Portion below).

This provides each of those areas with the fastest response from the nearest fire station.

2007 Automatic Aid Map - La Habra Heights serves La Habra/Whittier Area in Green, LA County serves LHH in Orange
Map courtesy of La Habra Heights Fire Watch

After Council Comments, Mayor Baroldi asked City Manager Shauna Clark if she wanted to respond to anything said by the public.

She said, "No, the only reason I bring it up is because it relates to public safety issue and I don't want people believing that we do not get automatic aid from LA County. Every resident in the City gets automatic aid and nothing has changed.”

Edwards called out, "That's a lie."

Fact Check

As shown above, according to the 2007 Automatic Aid agreement Los Angeles County only provides automatic aid to a small corner of the western Heights.

Practically, it would not make sense for L.A. County Fire Department to provide automatic aid to the entire city because the city fire department is much closer to most of the city and could respond faster.

Edwards was correct in what he said.

It is unclear if Ms. Clark confused "Automatic Aid" with "Mutual Aid", if the City has some secret agreement, or if Ms. Clark is under City Council direction to lead residents to think they are getting more for their Fire Tax dollars than they actually are.

Mutual Aid is a secondary response, where the first responders call in help from a nearby department under a prior agreement.

Los Angeles County Fire Department will respond to the entirety of La Habra Heights under Mutual Aid, but the La Habra Heights Fire Department first must respond, evaluate, and put out a call for assistance.