San Diego firefighters may try two-man response teams - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego firefighters may try two-man response teams

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Using two-man firefighter crews to shorten response times and cover more ground gained support among some San Diego city officials.

A $75,000 report done by Citygate Associates said response times by the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department are too long in 19 neighborhoods. The report was handed up to the City Council's public safety committee.

Ten of the 19 neighborhoods are big enough to warrant their own fire station, while the remaining nine could be covered by two-man crews, one of whom would be a paramedic, according to the study.

"This is, in my 31 years, the most exhaustive study of the fire department's capabilities," SDFRD Chief Javier Mainar said.

The report recommended building 10 new fire stations to fully cover the city and bring response times down. Frank DeClercq, who heads the firefighters union, said city officials should look for money to build two stations per year.

The chief said he liked the idea of what Citygate called "fast response units."

"I agree," he said. "We have to be innovative."

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, a public safety committee member, issued a memo, urging the city to deploy two or three teams for a two-year trial period to see how they work.

The fast-response units could be moved to areas of the greatest need, depending on the time of year or other factors, she said.

"For instance, they could be moved to beach areas during summer months if it was determined by the data that additional coverage might be needed during those months," Zapf wrote.

Zapf also suggested keeping some firefighters on three- and four-day work schedules to enable firefighters to cover larger areas during busy periods.

Mainar said compressed schedules historically end up costing the city more.

The report urged improvements along:

- Home Avenue, a major thoroughfare through City Heights;

- in Paradise Hills;

- in the College Area near San Diego State University;

- in Skyline;

- in Encanto;

- and the west end of Governor Drive, near Regents Road, in the southern part of University City.

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