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County Fire Agencies Unite

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

San Diego County fire agencies are banding together to share resources – and act more like a single, countywide fire department. The agreement comes after years of talk about how to improve response time to large-scale disasters. KPBS Radio’s Andrew Phelps has details.

Sixty-five fire agencies working as one. That’s the goal of fire chiefs countywide, who agreed to pool their money and technology. As a result, a government grant awarded to one agency will be shared by all. Firefighters in the tiny, all-volunteer department of the Elfin Forest’s will share resources with the large department in the city of San Diego. City Fire Chief Tracy Jarman says the deadly Cedar Fire three years ago exposed cracks in the region’s communication systems.

Jarman: When we have a fire now, we’re all talking. We’re working with the Sheriff’s department, we’re working with law enforcement – all the other agencies that are involved, should we have a significant event. Those are huge strides that we’ve made since the Cedar Fire in 2003.

The chiefs say residents should even expect faster response times to everyday emergencies in the next six to nine months. For KPBS, I’m Andrew Phelps.

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