Even though Los Angeles, with nearly 3 million people, is clearly the Big City, the small-town concept of volunteer firefighters is making a comeback.
The Los Angeles Fire Department was given the money Tuesday to create a new division that will, among other things, organize teams of residents to fight fires, make rescues and treat minor injuries after earthquakes and other major disasters.
One such team has already been trained by the Fire Department in the west San Fernando Valley, through the sponsorship of Councilman Hal Bernson, who pushed the City Council to adopt the new program.
On a 12-0 vote, the council put up $750,000 to begin training volunteer teams across the city. But the measure did not pass without a warning from Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky that the cost, which only covers the rest of this budget year, will rise to about $1.6 million next year.
Responded Bernson: "We spend a lot of money for things that are a lot more foolish than this."