SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Firefighters are taking longer to arrive at emergencies since staffing cuts were instituted nearly a year ago, fire Chief Javier Mainar told a City Council committee Wednesday.
Mainar said the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department aims to match the national standard for responding to house fire -- getting a crew of 15 firefighters to a blaze in nine minutes 90 percent of the time -- but he told the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee that firefighters were now hitting the mark only 69 percent of the time.
In the Midway district, Mira Mesa and Rancho Penasquitos, response times have recently been running more than 11 minutes, according to Fire-Rescue statistics.
Mainar cautioned that average response times in San Diego are typically lower than the national standard -- around eight minutes -- but that averages can be misleading because some spots are farther from fire stations than others.
Downtown has the fastest response times, averaging a little more than five minutes, Mainar said. In North Park, response times are average about six minutes.
Staffing cutbacks aimed at saving $11.5 million in the current fiscal year were instituted in February. As many as eight fire engines are taken out of service each day on a rotating basis to reduce costs.
"I think we're making a serious mistake by not putting engines back on the street, and we're putting public safety at risk," councilwoman Marti Emerald, who head the committee, said.
The city's chief financial officer, Mary Lewis, said Mayor Jerry Sanders would consider allowing the fire department to return to previous levels at the start of the fiscal year, July 1.
Restoring fire department staffing to previous levels now would cost about $4.8 million, according to the mayor's office.
A search is underway for two men wanted in connection with an armed robbery at an East Lake home in the 1600 block of Claret Cup Drive late Saturday night.
Rady's Children's Hospital welcomed hundreds of former NICU patients and their families Sunday for a very special annual reunion. The group had the chance to say thank you and catch up with the doctors and nurses who helped care for the newborns.
San Diegans now have to dial 10 digits for all calls - even local calls. As of Saturday, May 19, callers with area codes 619 and 858 have to enter the area code for all calls. Landline callers will have to dial one first, then the area code and phone number.
Several fires that ignited across San Diego County last week are under investigation. One cause being considered is the possibility that the fires were started by homeless people.
Dozens demonstrated on the Del Mar corner of Jimmy Durante Blvd. and Via de la Valle saying gun shows should not be held at the the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
A fire at an apartment in downtown Chula Vista sent two children to a hospital early Saturday morning.
Mesa College will award the first bachelor's degrees in its history during a commencement ceremony today, the college announced.
Sharp Hospital on Friday recognized those who have overcome major medical setbacks to become leaders in the community during the 28th Annual Victories of Spirit celebration.