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San Diego’s Fire Resources Not Catching Up

— A new analysis of what San Diego spends on firefighting suggests the region has not caught up with spending in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, and in fact it has fallen farther behind.

One of two firefighting helicopters the San Diego Fire Department has for fighting wildfires. The helicopters can hold 375 gallons of water and can be filled in 17 seconds. They will be staffed 24 hours a day throughout the fall.
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Above: One of two firefighting helicopters the San Diego Fire Department has for fighting wildfires. The helicopters can hold 375 gallons of water and can be filled in 17 seconds. They will be staffed 24 hours a day throughout the fall.

SDG&E plans on cutting the power to rural San Diego when wildfire threats are at its highest.
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Above: SDG&E plans on cutting the power to rural San Diego when wildfire threats are at its highest.

When you add up what all the various fire agencies in the San Diego region spend, it comes out to just over $150 per person. An analysis by the National University System Institute for Policy Research says that is in comparison to almost $220 dollar per person spent on fire protection in Los Angeles.

The study’s author, Erik Bruvald, says that the gap has widened since last year. He says San Diego’s political leaders need to shift existing revenues to fire protection, or generate new revenue.

"Either option is on the table," he says, "but the sad reality is that decision makers haven’t found a way to do either of those things, and so while investment levels have increased a little bit, by no means have they made up for the deficiencies in our funding, and clearly the other two counties we bench marked against are finding ways to make firefighting a higher priority."

Bruvald says while the five largest fire departments in Los Angeles have increased by 240 personnel, San Diego’s top five have actually lost eight people.

The study was partially funded by SDG&E.

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