Monday, July 11, 2011
The police and fire departments want to take emergency
response times into account when deciding whether employees can take home
city-owned vehicles, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Javier Mainar said
Using different criteria could mean the savings from having fewer take-
home vehicles in the city's fleet would be different than the $569,000 annually
listed in a recent City Auditor's report, Mainar said at a meeting of the City
Council's Audit Committee.
The audit recommends keeping 76 vehicles in quarters, with savings from
lower maintenance costs associated with less wear-and-tear on the vehicles. The
report took into account the length of an employee's commute and the frequency
that he or she is called to an emergency while off-duty.
Mainar said the critical issue was the affected worker's response time,
and how much longer it would be if he or she had to drive to a station to get
"They have to be response-ready,'' Mainar said.
He said many of the employees are expected to have their equipment
loaded at all times and drive the vehicles even on personal outings so they can
respond to an emergency immediately. That's why people see firefighters in
official department vehicles dropping off their children at school or shopping,
Mainar -- whose approach was endorsed by Councilman Kevin Faulconer --
said three fire vehicles have already been taken off the take-home list.
The fire chief and a police representative promised to return to the
committee in six months with an update on how many more cars will be kept in
The departments will also conduct an annual review of take-home vehicles.
According to the audit, 347 city-owned vehicles are taken home by
employees, 277 by police officers, 48 by firefighters and the rest by public
works and other departments.
Councilman Carl DeMaio said many of the cases are legitimate, but the
public perception is that it's a perk.