If the engine bay at Pacific Highlands Ranch Fire Station 47 looks a little roomier since its February opening, there’s a reason why.
While Pardee Homes built the $10 million station and equipped it with a fire engine ladder truck and an ambulance, the truck has since been taken away and given to Station 14 in North Park.
The reason is strictly warranty related, according to Maurice Luque, spokesman for San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
“The need was to ensure that if there was any warranty work that needed to be done on the truck that it be used to find out,” Luque said. “It wasn’t being used at 47 so we assigned it to a busy station so if there are any deficiencies the department will find out.”
The only way to find out about mechanical or electronic deficiencies with the vehicle is through use, Luque said. He said the city would rather find out about any problems while the truck is still under warranty rather than have to fix it at the city and taxpayers’ expense later.
Luque said there is no set point in time for the truck to return but assured “it will return.” Pardee Homes declined to comment for this article.
Short-staffed While Station 47 Captain Jeff George could not comment on the truck being taken away, he was willing to talk about how far San Diego is behind some other cities in the country when it comes to fire protection.
George pointed to an Independent Budget Analysis Report issued in May by the Ad Hoc Fire Prevention and Recovery Committee. The report compared San Diego to ten other large fire departments such as Houston, Indianapolis and San Francisco. When compared to the other cities, San Diego had the fewest number of firefighters per 1,000 residents. San Diego has 2.68 firefighters per square mile of the city, compared to the average 8.80 per square mile.
“In this neck of the woods our biggest concern is wildfire danger,” George said. “Especially all of the canyon brush that has built up over the years.”
Having an additional crew at the station would be a big plus in covering the wildfire risk – currently there are three crews of four firefighters that service the station. The 10,500 square foot station has 11 individual rooms to sleep the station’s capacity at full strength as well as a chief’s suite that is currently empty.
In addition to staffing needs, the report addressed the needs for additional facilities, equipment and an improved brush management program.
In November, Proposition A was placed on the ballot to try to get some of San Diego’s fire service needs met. Prop A was a fire protection parcel tax to help provide for the establishment of a Regional Fire Protection Agency and wildfire prevention efforts like specialized equipment, communication systems and brush clearing.
The proposition failed on Election Day – it needed two-thirds of the vote and fell short.