San Diego residents could begin to feel the effects next week of one of the city's most significant budget cuts, when fewer fire engines could mean slower response times to fires.
Eight fire engines will be taken out of the city's regular rotation, reducing the number of crews available at 13 stations across the city. The move is expected to save $11.5 million per year -- a fraction of the city's $179 million deficit.
"Public safety is a little bit like an insurance policy. You hope you never have to use it, but when it needs to be there, it needs to be there in full effect," Fire Chief Javier Mainar told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Today we're reducing our coverage, and that's not a good thing."
The move is part of a larger package of cuts designed to close the city's $179 million budget deficit. The plan is to shut down eight of the city's 47 fire engines each day, and use the firefighters that would've been assigned to those engines to fill in for others who call in sick or are on vacation. Officials expect the plan to eliminate $11.5 million in annual overtime costs.
Tradiationally, local government considers public safety costs sacred cows -- budgets for police and fire departments are slashed only in the most dire emergencies. Mayor Sanders said the current budget crisis rises to those levels.
"We're facing unparalleled times," Sanders told the Union-Tribune. "The city’s done what it can with the revenue it’s got. ... Now it’s affecting our ability to serve the citizens and protect them.”
The following fire stations will be affected by the cuts:
- College Area: 62nd and Acorn streets
- Downtown San Diego: 1st Avenue and B Street
- Downtown San Diego: 8th Avenue and J Street
- Golden Hill: 25th Street and Broadway
- Kearny Mesa: Kearny Villa Road and Aero Drive
- Lincoln Park: Imperial and Willie James Jones avenues
- Midway: Midway Drive and Kemper Street
- Mira Mesa: Black Mountain and Maya Linda roads
- North Park: 32nd Street and Lincoln Avenue
- Pacific Beach: Grand Avenue and Mission Boulevard
- Rancho Peñasquitos: Salmon River Road and Paseo Montalban
- San Ysidro: San Ysidro Boulevard and Cottonwood Road
- University City: Eastgate Mall and Genesee Avenue