With only a few percentage points away from passage , Proposition A was designed to improve and enhance firefighting resources and services for the region. Prop A would have established a special fire protection parcel tax and a Regional Fire Protection Agency.
"It's good news and bad news" says San Diego City Fire Chief Tracy Jarman who actively campaigned in favor of it. Citizens are aware of the need for increased protection but she says the region will "have to go through two more fire seasons" before another measure can go on the ballot in 2010. The ordinance which needed a 2/3 vote failed 63.21% to 36.79% with all the precincts counted. Jarman said they needed 66.6% to pass.
The lack of funding could put the super fire fighting aircraft, the Super Scoopers in jeopardy in San Diego. Without money to pay for its continued use here the giant aerial firefighters may not be back next fire season. They've already been used to fight large fires in San Diego County in October. The Super Scoopers are equipped with a 1600 gallon tank and have the capability of refilling in 12 seconds. Two Super Scoopers are being leased for three months at a cost of $3 million dollars as part of a pilot program.
In the meantime, Jarman says, "we just have to be as creative as we can , find new approaches to fire problems but in light of the failure of Prop A there is no revenue stream to enhance fire protection." As an example San Diego City Fire has formed the FAST program, which stands for fire attack support teams. The teams consist of firefighters who ride in SUV's or pick-ups and extinguish blowing embers that might cause fires miles away from the original wildfire. The vehicles are armed with a 'kit' of hoses and fittings that attach to garden hoses or hydrants. San Diego will remain the largest county in California without a firefighting agency.