SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The City Council voted unanimously Monday to approve a policy to maintain the current practice of requiring a minimum staffing level of four firefighters on fire engines and trucks in San Diego.
Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who heads the City Council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, said today's vote was intended to "memorialize" state and federal firefighter staffing standards.
"We need to set, I believe, some standards going forward in these tough budget times," Emerald said.
"We want to send a message ... that one standard we don't want to abandon is the basic minimum four-member crew standard for firefighters," she said.
While there has not been a specific proposal to change the current required firefighter staffing levels, some officials have questioned whether moving to three-person crews would save money.
Councilman Carl DeMaio, who said he doesn't support a change now, said that "unfortunately, given the fact we have budget constraints, I want us to really be very thoughtful in exploring all options."
Fire officials told the City Council that having four-member fire fighting crews is critical to maintaining emergency response times and coordinating once on the scene.
"We are united in our position that four-person staffing is what is appropriate in our city," San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Javier Mainar testified.
Ultimately, the decision on firefighting staffing levels is up to the mayor.
Jay Goldstone, the city's chief operating officer, said Mayor Jerry Sanders is committed to the four-person firefighter standard.
A study on the issue, initiated by the mayor's office, is due sometime next month.
"We are going to have a report in six weeks that might put data on the table that will change our opinion," DeMaio said. "I doubt it will. But, absent any data to the contrary, I continue to support four-person crews."
DeMaio said, however, he believes the city needs to look at the cost of how firefighting staff are deployed.
The SDFRD responds to more than 100,000 calls a year, most of them are for medical emergencies.
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A soldier from the San Diego area died as a result of a "non-combat related" incident in Kosovo, the Department of Defense said Friday.
Authorities Friday released the name of a lawman who opened fire on an assault suspect who allegedly charged him with a machete over his head in a busy intersection near Grossmont Center mall.
Law enforcement agencies across San Diego County are planning to crack down on drunken driving over the three-day Memorial Day weekend.
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Some of the smartest high school students in San Diego County will be in Atlanta this weekend competing in the National Quiz Bowl Championship.
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Millions of Southern Californians will be taking to the roads and airways Friday as the Memorial Day travel crunch goes into high gear, and the large crowds will likely test the patience of motorists and airline passengers.