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Fire Chiefs Ask For 25 More Engines to Bolster Wildfire Protection

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Fire chiefs around the San Diego region are asking for 25 more fire engines immediately to help them build so-called “surge capacity” in the event of another wildfire. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

Former local fire chief Jeff Bowman recommended the county acquire 50 engines to mobilize in the first critical hours of a wildfire. But San Diego city fire chief Tracey Jarman gave a lower number to the Joint Regional Fire Protection committee, led by supervisor Ron Roberts and Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Jarman said she and other fire chiefs did a survey of fire districts to see how many extra engines they could house.

Jarman : And we came up with 25. Right now today but I think that's because a lot of issues that were discussed were ‘how are you going to staff it?’ ‘How are you going to deploy it?’ How are you going to maintain it? You don't want to have it sit out in the weather.

Jarman says 25 fully-equipped engines would cost about $15 million and take 18 months to arrive. The regional fire protection committee may produce recommendations on funding and regional coordination by June.

From the County Administration building, I'm Alison St John, KPBS News.

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