Santa Clara Co. supes meet to discuss SJFD response times

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Supervisors are debating why the fire department is not responding to emergency calls fast enough and what can be done about the alarming trend.

Many agree that department has broken its contract and promise to that county that requires emergency responders show up to 90 percent of medical calls in eight minutes or fewer. Over the last year that goal has only been met 80 percent of the time.

The fire department blames staffing and budget cuts, but Supervisor Dave Cortese, who is running for mayor, wants the fire department held accountable.

"We want the response times improved immediately. Yesterday wouldn't have been too soon. But in the meantime, we are going to ask for 30-day plan, a 30-day remedial plan. And then we're going to ask them, within the next four months, to live by that plan. And, that means keeping to the 90 percent standard," said Cortese.

"In the last few years, we've lost over five fire companies in the city that were the Code 3 emergency responding units. Putting those back in service, I think, is critical. We also see a city that continues to grow," said SJFD Union President Robert Sapien.

The fire department could face a fine of up to $850,000 for breach of contract but Cortese is recommending a smaller fine of $150,000.

The count emergency medical services director said he is not aware of any loss of life due to the slow response times.

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