Fire and Police departments request budget increases
By Aldrich M. Tan
April 13, 2006
The San Francisco Police Department and Fire Department presented
their policy objectives at Tuesday's Budget and Finance Committee
and requested additional funding to their provided budgets for
the next fiscal year.
The fire department has increased its revenue and decreased expenditures,
Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said. The department has saved over
$3.8 mil. by cutting of work compensation costs.
The fire department is also benefiting from its role as the primary
emergency medical service provider, Hayes-White said. It began
a reconfiguration of EMS program by hiring 24 functioning paramedics.
Paramedics also have a shorter training time.
"Basically, we're saving money," Hayes-White said.
The fire department also plans to upgrade its EMS technology,
Hayes-White said. It is in the process of adopting electronic
devices will improve data collection and allow paramedics to quickly
bring up a patient's records electronically.
"We feel there is a value to embracing new technology in
our department," White said.
Hayes-White said the department's challenge is to implement Proposition
F, which calls for the department to end unit brownouts, the practice
of temporarily closing five fire stations on a rotating basis
to save labor costs.
"The brownouts happened during difficult economic times,"
Hayes-White said. "We're projecting that it is going to cost
$7.5 mil. which is not something that we can off-set in our department."
Prop. F also calls for the fire department to return to the mandated
minimum staffing to run all the firehouses, White said. A projected
75 firefighters will be retiring, but the fire department projects
it will be hiring and training 72 new hires, including paramedics.
Police chief Heather Fong proposed an increased budget of $381
mil. to the police department's budget. The current department
for next year is $352 mil.
The department is requesting increased funds to help improve
technology, Fong said. It requested for a supplemental allocation
of $200,000 for an independent evaluation of the department's
current systems. The department is still largely operating on
Windows 95 system and e-mail is limited to certain departments.
"Our department is still stuck in the previous century when
it comes to technology," Fong said. "
The increased funding will help the department replace retiring
officers, Fong said. 900 police officers will become eligible
for retirement in the next nine years.
Fong proposed an increase of 5 classes of 50 officers for the
fiscal year, considering the time period that it takes to train
the officers. The proposed five classes will cost approximately
Supervisor Bevan Dufty said he would be more interested in seeing
a proposal of seven to eight classes of police officers.
"I personally want the opportunity to vote for an ordinance
that would put the police at full staffing," Dufty said.
"The lack of officers hinders the department's ability to
respond to crime and the public's desire for safer streets and
less vehicle robberies means a need for more visible police presence."