Three years ago, a fire consulting firm recommended an alternative that could help the city deal with the problem of emergency response crews arriving late to calls for help in certain parts of the city. Creating two-person crews in some pockets of San Diego would be cheaper than building new fire stations, the firm said.
City Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who heads the Council’s public safety committee, doesn’t want the crews. At a hearing last week, she argued the money would be better spent elsewhere.
The only problem: To support her argument, she asked a series of questions that have the potential to distort the issue.
Her perspective, though, could explain why the city hasn’t funded the crews even though their appeal is obvious. New fire stations with a four-person engine company cost roughly $12 million, including the first year of staffing. The two-person crews cost about $600,000 annually. The fire consultant, Citygate, didn’t know if the crews would work, but recommended a one-year pilot program. Fire-Rescue Chief Javier Mainar, the fire union and the City Council all agreed to the program.
But some Council members have resisted the two-person crews because they’d rather see the full fire stations built.
Last month, the city put some money toward building two new stations. So far, though, none of the five neighborhoods at the greatest risk for a delayed response – Home Avenue in City Heights, Paradise Hills, College Area, Skyline and Encanto – has had a new station built or a two-person crew added in the three years since Citygate released its report.
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In San Diego, like other cities, union firefighters spend far more time responding to medical 911 calls, often for heart attacks than they do going to fires. This kind of work could and should be done by paramedics, at far less cost. Ask any politician why they use trained firefighters instead of trained paramedics to respond to heart attack calls and see how much smoke they blow at you.
So what's in a new fire station besides two extra (four total firefighters) at a time that makes them so important to these politicians? (Beyond being able to report having built one when you run for reelection.) I could use a fire station diagram or something. It sounds like we need more paramedics than firefighters. Do paramedics have their own stations?
Hi Catherine- Here's a map of existing fire stations and proposed new ones along with delayed responses over a 13-month period we examined. https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?docid=1OmkXkYjOspJbOARAcQJqlmFtolkDFmBKBuprBCQ#map:id=3
Regarding paramedics, all firefighters are cross trained as EMTs and at least one firefighter on every crew is a paramedic. See the graphic linked in this story http://voiceofsandiego.org/2013/07/25/emergency-response-when-every-second-counts/
New fire stations are something council members can put on their list of alleged accomplishments when they run for reelection or higher office: faster response times don't have the campaign flyer sexiness of brick and mortar projects. Emerald became an expert at skewing the facts when she was a TV news " troubleshooter," so the distortion of this issue comes as no surprise. Sadly, though, such mumbo jumbo drives council policy decisions.
"But some Council members have resisted the two-person crews because they’d rather see the full fire stations built."
Of course they would. Their districts would get the full benefit of the fire stations but would only pay a fraction of the cost. The rest of us make up the difference.
But if their districts each had to pay 100% of the cost of each station without help from the rest of the city, they might be a little wiser with the way they spend taxpayer's money.Unscrupulous diner's dilemmahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unscrupulous_diner%27s_dilemmaIn game theory, the Unscrupulous diner's dilemma (or just Diner's dilemma) is an n-player prisoner's dilemma. The situation imagined is that several individuals go out to eat, and prior to ordering, they agree to split the check equally between all o...
When I visit a store in another district, I pay sales taxes. That money can be used to build a fire station in that district. So why does tax revenue collected in my district need to be used to build a fire station in another district?
Well, we need at least three man crews, so when the state troopers toss one fireman in cuffs there will still be two to work on the emergency.