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Red flag rai$ed about fire funding

NBC San Diego

Tony Shin

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A new study is raising a red flag about fire protection in San Diego County. It compared how much our County has invested, compared to other counties in our region and the results may surprise you.

The study shows that our County is falling far behind when you compare it to our neighbors to the North.

Soon after the October wildfires tore through San Diego County in 2007, researcher Erik Bruvold decided to ask a tough question.

“How do we stack up in terms of investment on fire protection?"

Bruvold and retired San Diego Fire Chief Jeff Bowman looked at how much San Diego County spent on fire protection in the past fiscal year compared to Los Angeles County and Orange County. They put the findings in a 78-page study.

"One, on a per capita basis, we are significantly under investing compared to those other counties. Two, since 2004 to the present, that gap has actually gotten wider," Bruvold said.

The most compelling number involves staffing levels.
"Our staffing has gone down 8.5 positions, while in Orange County they've added more than a hundred positions and in Los Angeles they've added 240 firefighters," Bruvold said.

"Are we the best prepared that we can possibly be? The answer is no," San Diego County Supervisor Diane Jacob said.
She calls the fire protection effort in San Diego a “work in progress” and says the County is conducting it's own study, which will be completed next year.

“What that's going to do is, for the first time, it's going to tell us as a region, what do we need and how much is it going to cost," Jacob said.

She also wants to point out that both Los Angeles County and Orange County have "County" fire departments. San Diego does not, so our County doesn't get additional funding from the state.