Calling for additional resources, the head of the Los Angeles firefighter union says there were more firefighters on staff when he joined in 1989 than there are today.

Freddy Escobar, president of the United Firefighters of L.A. City, voiced his concerns at last week’s fire commission meeting and wrote a letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti, highlighting that L.A. has fewer firefighters than cities considerably smaller in size.

From December 2020 to December 2021, response times were 13 seconds slower for ambulances and six seconds slower for fires, according to numbers from the Los Angeles Fire Department.

COVID-19 exacerbated the staffing shortage with as many as 300 firefighters off work at once.  

“We believe in the vaccination. We do not believe in the mandate, and to terminate anyone on the mandate is ethically, morally and practically wrong,” Escobar said.

Christina Pascucci reports for the KTLA 5 News at 5 on Jan. 24, 2022.