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'We literally don't have enough firefighters' | SDFD issues 'Emergency Brown-Out' plan due to COVID-19

2022 will begin with less San Diego firefighters available on the front lines, an unfortunate side effect of the COVID pandemic.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The surge in COVID cases is also having an impact on the San Diego Fire Department.

With so many people having to isolate, the department has issued an Emergency Brown-Out order.

2022 will begin with less San Diego firefighters available on the front lines, an unfortunate side effect of the COVID pandemic.

"We literally don't have enough firefighters to staff the amount of first responder apparatus in operations," said Jesse Conner, President of San Diego City Fire Fighters, I.A.F.F. Local 145.

Connor says the latest surge of COVID cases have hit the fire department particularly hard. There are currently 94 personnel who are either sick or having to isolate themselves.

"When we start losing people and we can't backfill those vacancies we have to start taking out a unit here and there," said Connor.

This week a memo went out from Fire Chief Colin Stowell to the entire department announcing plans for what's known as an Emergency Brown-Out, taking up to 7 engines temporarily out of service starting Monday, January 3.

It's a move that comes with a certain amount of risk to public safety and city personnel who must fight fire with fewer resources.

The brown-out may also cause longer ambulance response times as the hospital systems are overrun.

Connor says, while this situation is not ideal, it's the best way to continue to serve the public despite the circumstances. He is encouraging everyone to take the proper precautions this new year to ensure it will be the last spent in a pandemic.

"We have to remain vigilant so we can all get past their crisis," said Connor.

The brown-out plan starts on Monday and while it is temporary there is currently is no end date as the case numbers continue to change daily.

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