San Diego Fire-Rescue Department to report on review recommendations

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department has instituted four of 10 recommendations suggested in a consultant's review, according to a report to be presented to the City Council Wednesday.

The report scheduled to be discussed at a 2 p.m. meeting of the council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee states that fire officials are in the process of implementing four other recommendations.

The Northern California-based consulting group Citygate provided ideas for improving the fire department and helping it meet national standards for response times. A group of city officials were supposed to have made sure the recommendations were implemented over the past year.

The most important of the four recommendations completed was ending a "brownout" policy that took eight engines out of service on a rotating basis to save money. The others were bureaucratic, such as adopting revised deployment measures and new population definitions, and deciding to use Citygate criteria for prioritizing resources.

Of the recommendations being implemented:

-- the city is reviewing community plans to make sure they include funding for needed fire stations, and the city is revising fire station capital improvement projects;

-- a new dispatching process for medical emergencies has been adopted, which has reduced response times by 42 seconds; a grant request to have the dispatch process reviewed by outside experts, however, was unsuccessful;

-- city officials are determining if there is any interest in sponsorships for the fire department's new fast-response squads; and

-- bids are still being accepted through Thursday for prospective contractors on a $4.3 million fire station emergency alert system, which would replace broken down equipment.

The two recommendations that have not been fulfilled are funding for a fire truck in east Mission Valley and designing a new station on Home Avenue -- both due to lack of funding. The SDFRD is proposing that both be carried over into the next fiscal year.

Most of the recommendations scheduled to be implemented in the second year include building, outfitting and staffing the east Mission Valley and Home Avenue stations.

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