Friday, December 5, 2014

USCG Investigating LA Port Fireboat Units

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard is investigating whether members of fireboat units stationed near the Port of Los Angeles improperly obtained Coast Guard licenses required by the City of Los Angeles, according to a leaked LA Fire Dept. memo.

According to the memo, which was sent out in late November and obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the Coast Guard is looking into whether federal licensing records were falsified for LAFD members assigned to the department’s fleet of five fireboats.

Investigators are said to be focusing on whether licensing paperwork documenting the time spent on the water by some firefighters was overstated. Under city rules, pilots and mates assigned to the boats are required to first secure Coast Guard-issued licenses that involve specialized training, a written exam and hundreds of hours of verified sea experience.

A total of 15 pilots and mates are assigned to the units.

According to the LAFD memo, a special agent of the Coast Guard Investigative Service in June requested 10 years of Fire Dept. logs, journals and other records documenting fleet operations.
The fireboat units, which are based at firehouses near the port, include scuba divers trained for underwater firefighting, plus crews that operate the LAFD’s harbor-based fleet.

According to Fire Dept. spokesman Peter Sanders, the LAFD internally conducted a similar investigation in 2012, but was unable to substantiate allegations that records had been falsified.
Sanders, however, said his agency is cooperating with the probe.