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Impact Of Fire Department Brownouts Hard To Measure

Officially the San Diego Fire Department’s plan to save money by limiting the use of some fire engines hasn’t impacted too many cases. But the plan’s impact is proving a difficult thing to measure.

On paper, only three out of about 7,100 calls have been affected during the first month of the fire and rescue department’s money saving plan. Under the brownout measure, up to eight engines go unused each day. Chief Javier Mainar told a city council committee that he believes the number of cases impacted by the plan is higher, but he says many go unreported. Mainar says others are difficult to classify.

“If you’re a new mother and your infant child suffers a febrile seizure, it’s not a major medical emergency. It can typically be very easily handled,” he says. “But to that mother that is a big deal. And if it takes us five minutes longer to get there, from their perspective, that is huge.”


Mainar says the plan will also have a ripple effect. He says in one case there were three medical emergencies were crews got there late. That happened because some engines were not staffed.

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