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During the February 16 meeting of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, consultant for Citygate Associates, Stewart Gary, presented a study that examined the city's fire department response capabilities.

Among the major findings, the study revealed that the City was ten fire stations, four ladder companies, and two chiefs short.

Recommendations to improve service levels included assuring that multiple units respond to serious emergencies in under 11 minutes, updating the alert systems in fire stations, and implementing fast-response squads — two-person fire and paramedic crews that offer more than basic emergency medical services in sparsely populated areas.

Councilmember Lorie Zapf had some other suggestions, one of which included favoring the fast-response squads over adding more engines because, according to Citygate's study, approximately 80 percent of 911 calls are medical and 3.5 percent are fire-related.

"I'm looking for ways to use our resources more effectively, doing business in a different way," said Zapf. "The way we are [running] our fire department is a throwback."

Zapf suggested restoring service at the 13 browned-out stations but reducing staff levels during non-peak hours. "Fully staffing both fire engines in the middle of the night makes no sense to me," Zapf said.

Fire chief Javier Mainar didn't agree. "The majority of deaths that occur in America occur in single-family dwellings at nighttime when people are sleeping and most vulnerable. To suggest turning off those resources simply because the call volume is low does not make for good policy.... Fires may only be three-and-a-half percent of calls, but for that three-and-a-half percent, that call is the only one that matters to them."

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 18, 2011 @ 5:27 p.m.

Fire chief Javier Mainar didn't agree. "The majority of deaths that occur in America occur in single-family dwellings at nighttime when people are sleeping and most vulnerable. To suggest turning off those resources simply because the call volume is low does not make for good policy.... Fires may only be three-and-a-half percent of calls, but for that three-and-a-half percent, that call is the only one that matters to them."

==================== Another loser GED Firewhiner who thinks money grows on trees and the roads are paved with gold.

Tell FireDork if he wants a full crew on grave yard he needs to get the compensation for their GED jobs in line with GED jobs in the real world, no more $200K comp packages, that would solve the problem b/c it is a fiscal problem, nothing more.

You cannot staff at decent levels when you are comping these employees twice what the jobs is worth and 4 times what you could get people to do it for in the open and free market.

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Fred Williams Feb. 18, 2011 @ 10:11 p.m.

The Centers for Disease control flatly contradicts Mainar:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm

But he probably meant to say "majority of FIRE deaths".

CDC also says that "Cooking is the primary cause of residential fires (Ahrens 2010)."

Do people do most cooking at night? Seems that while most fire DEATHS occur at night, most residential fires seem to occur during mealtime-hours.

And those deaths at night? Primarliy smoke inhalation...the kind of death that typically occurs before the firefighters are going to be called (unless there's a fire alarm-cheapest to give those away free to the poor instead of buying more trucks!).

So if preventing death is the Chief's goal, he should support Zapf's proposal. Getting immediate treatment to the injured is more important than saving structures.

The conversation should really include some other statistics. Here's more from the CDC:

Groups at increased risk of fire-related injuries and deaths include:

* Children 4 and under (CDC 2010; Flynn 2010);
* Older Adults ages 65 and older (CDC 2010; Flynn 2010);
* African Americans and Native Americans (CDC 2010; Flynn 2010);
* The poorest Americans (Istre 2001; Flynn 2010);
* Persons living in rural areas (Ahrens 2003; Flynn 2010);
* Persons living in manufactured homes or substandard housing (Runyan 1992; Parker 1993).

So, how does San Diego do on allocating its fire resources? Are the poor areas well covered...or does Rancho Bernardo have superior coverage compared to City Heights? Are there special plans in place to prevent fires in poor neighbourhoods, along with pre-staging of fire fighting equipment at mobile home parks...or are resources distributed according to political clout?

Considering how Ron Saathoff behaved as Fire Union Chief, and the shameful state of city finances, it's important to ask hard questions about the fire fighting and life saving priorities. How many compromises and deals have been made that waste resources and risk lives?

I think the Chief is cherry picking a bogus number to divert this overdue discussion...that's dishonest.

Zapf is right not to bow her head to this so-called expert. I encourage her to keep pushing...

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 20, 2011 @ 10:46 a.m.

I think the Chief is cherry picking a bogus number to divert this overdue discussion...that's dishonest.

============ You mean lie, cheat, steal and scam (from the poor mostly) to increase the union smembers, so they can lie. cheat and scam more money for a GED level job?

I am shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU!

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Founder Feb. 20, 2011 @ 9:05 a.m.

We will never have 100% Fire or Police protection, so we have to do the best we can with the money we have to spend!

The BIGGEST question that was not asked at that meeting was:

"What amount of pay reduction would all the FF's have to take to restore the browned out fire services, at no additional cost to the City?"

Yes, we have great FF's, but we are paying them all way to much, in these tough economic times, where tens of thousands are begging for any job at all that has good benefits!

That is our current reality and all the colorful bubble charts do nothing to change that picture of our fiscal fiasco! The City Council and Mayor need to re negotiate ASAP with both the FF's and SDPD Unions to get additional concessions that will allow the City to function without being browned out, otherwise these Unions are thinking more of themselves than the City they are sworn to protect...

BTW: Our Leaders are also on that same pension plan so they should set a good example by also taking a pay reduction!

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 20, 2011 @ 10:47 a.m.

"What amount of pay reduction would all the FF's have to take to restore the browned out fire services, at no additional cost to the City?"

============= Exactly Founder, what kind of cuts can they take-like everyone else in America has the last 3 years- to make them whole?

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Founder Feb. 20, 2011 @ 2:23 p.m.

The latest $uper Powerpoint Presentation not only wow'd the PS&NS folks but was foremost designed to "put out the fire" about REDUCTIONS in FF's pay & Pensions...

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 21, 2011 @ 8:59 a.m.

I think the vast majority of the public has finally caught onto these millionaire public employee pension scams, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

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BlueSouthPark Feb. 22, 2011 @ 11:42 a.m.

There is another financial parameter to consider: insurance costs to homeowners in areas where fire staff and equipment are reduced. Insurance companies monitor such reductions continuously and will raise homeowners' insurance in neighborhoods served, on the premise that response times may increase and thus homeowners' losses will be greater.

Insurance companies also closely watch reductions in police staff/equipment and changes in zoning. Less police means longer response times for burglary reports and potential higher loss claims. Upzoning via code changes (allowing more infill and greater building density) means denser populations and greater likelihood of home and vehicle break-ins and car theft.

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Visduh Feb. 22, 2011 @ 8:28 a.m.

Fred Williams asks if Rancho Bernardo has better fire coverage than City Heights. I doubt that, because when the Witch fire took out all those homes in RB, one of the excuses was that the single station in RB (even though it is a large station) couldn't muster enough equipment to effectively deal with the fire. Why did not the other stations in the city contribute to that effort? That was never adequately explained. (Some of it may have had to do with lending fire units to fight wildfires in other areas of the state, rendering them unavailable when our own conflagrations started.) The coverage pattern of SD fire stations does not reflect the current distribution of population, with the areas that were most recently developed getting scant coverage.

It is said repeatedly that the SD department puts a crew of four on its engines, whereas nearly all the other departments in the county use three. The brownouts would end if that staffing level were reduced. It has been proposed and then denounced as irresponsible and uncaring.

But one thing that makes absolutely no sense is when people and institutions call 911 for non-emergency transport of patients to hospitals. The need to transport a patient to a hospital from, say, a nursing home is a relatively routine occurrence, yet many times it is treated as an emergency. Private ambulance services exist to fill that niche, yet are underutilized. And when a FD ambulance is tied up with a non-emergency trip, it is out of service when a real emergency occurs. Yet, when someone faints in a store, hyperventilates in the workplace, or falls and twists his/her ankle, the usual reaction is to call 911. The "cavalry" rides to the rescue with a huge fire engine and an ambulance, sirens wailing and lights flashing, at major cost to the taxpayers.

In addition to reform of FD pay practices, some reform of how to spend those public safety dollars and use scarce resources far more effectively is badly needed.

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Founder Feb. 22, 2011 @ 12:12 p.m.

Visduh Your points are all well taken!

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InOmbra Feb. 24, 2011 @ 11:54 a.m.

Story in today's SacBee: In Sacto, thanks to Federal grant money obtained due to efforts by Rep. Matsui (D-Sacramento), Sacto fire can rehire 27 firefighters and put two browned-out units back to work.

Maybe San Diego's representatives in Sacto can step up to the plate for SD?

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