Firefighters and residents protested reduced services Tuesday in one of San Diego County’s largest fire districts: San Miguel.
Fire Station 23 on Dehesa Road switched to reduced services Tuesday morning. Picketers were outside the station asking for the fire board's seven members to cut elsewhere.
The San Miguel Fire Board approved a plan to switch out a fire engine company for a medic rescue unit, despite criticism from firefighters and some residents.
“It's going to be huge because the amount of time a fire has the ability to grow in nature and get out of control,” said Kevin Clark from San Miguel's FireFighters Union. “We could be at the scene of a fire in four minutes and now you're looking at double or almost triple the time.”
The majority of calls in the area, 70 percent, are medical aid calls, according to the district.
Engine 23 was chosen because it has the lowest fire risk compared to its population and the lowest response volume within the district, according to the board.
The reduction in services will save the fire district about $300,000 over one year.
The board is trying to balance providing the same service with receiving less revenue from property taxes and higher personnel costs said Chief Auggie Ghio.
“We're going to make sure the public is safe. We’ve developed a plan where we’re going to respond in the same great response time,” Ghio said a board meeting last week.
However, some firefighters claim that’s not realistic and the response time is unacceptable.
“The rescue unit can be there within 5 to 7 minutes, our normal response times, however that secondary structural firefighting engine… is 8 to 12 minutes away,” Kevin Clark Local 1434 Vice President said in a recorded statement on the union’s website.
No jobs are being lost in this change.