By Jim Vannucchi, Director
I have just reviewed a 309 plus-page document entitled the “MANAGEMENT AUDIT OF THE SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT” by the San Francisco Budget Analyst and only one thought comes to mind; what, are you kidding?

Up until 1989, for 135 years the SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT was an exceptionally effective suppression and fiscally responsible entity. With the introduction of the federally mandated Consent Decree, financial accountability was thrown to the wind as questionable units and positions were manufactured, and as questionably filled, to appease the whims of a select few, in direct conflict to the needs of the SFFD. These post-1989 expenditures, coupled with the poorly conceived DPH Paramedic merger, has placed the SFFD in an extremely vulnerable juncture as it pertains to its’ budget.

Yet, rather than review the viability of the most recently created items that equate to unnecessary budget costs, the Analyst has instead chosen to attack and recommend for elimination the very heart of the SFFD.

One of the many areas the Analyst has recommended for elimination is the position of H-4 Inspector at the Bureau of Fire Prevention, with these uniform positions to be converted into civilian positions. Apparently, someone did not do his or her homework. The most fundamental and undoubtedly the most important aspect of fire suppression is pre-fire planning in all its’ stages. This is quite basically what our fire-seasoned inspectors do. Their aggressive intuitiveness into the planning of construction in San Francisco has produced a remarkable track record because of one constant and one constant only; the H-4’s were experienced firefighters first. To remove this balance of sworn personnel and place it into the hands of civilians is a disaster waiting to happen.

The Analyst has also pressed for the elimination of a uniformed presence at the Bureau of Equipment. The current members of this unit are not only responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of our equipment, but also the design of our apparatus. Their specifications for equipment are based on 2 items that a civilian cannot convert to a blueprint; what works at a fire and what keeps a firefighter safe. The very idea of deleting this experience from the equation is foolhardy. If anything, the H-2’s that staff the BOE should receive a raise.

Further, at no great surprise, EMS has entered the crosshairs of the Analyst. To negate a lengthy rebuttal, I submit a simple solution; dump the boxes. It’s quite simple. The SFFD has always provided medical intervention to the citizens of San Francisco and will proudly continue to do so. But make it work. Get rid of the ambulances. Increase the daily staffing on engines to 1-4 and trucks to 1-5, place a paramedic on every company every day, and give the transportation to the 2532’s or the privates. The H-3’s are paramedic/firefighters, with the working word being firefighter. Let them fulfill the role that that they have chosen, and were promised by the Shortall-McCallion-Isaccs hat trick, increase their moral 100 fold, and dump the EMS administration because, guess what, there already is an administration in place and its’ called the SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT.

The recommendations submitted by the Analyst are endless and I am confidant the COD Trevino will aggressively defend what is right. But before I close on this issue, perhaps Mr. Rose can explain why EMS HQ at the Presidio, which is staffed daily by 38 members, is training a class of 30 individuals to become paramedics, of which 26 are non-SFFD civilians.

By the way, who audits the budget of the San Francisco Budget Analyst?


Work on the November 2002 retirement ballot initiative is underway and we need your help now. Please contact the Union Hall ASAP to assist the membership in this massive undertaking. Thousands of dollars and human hours will be dedicated to this effort but it will fail without your help. Protect yourselves and your families. Give as much of your time as you can. There are close to 2,000 members in the SFFD, and we except close to 2,000 volunteers. Please, do not be lulled into thinking that “someone” else will do the work for you. If you want this, you are going to have to go and get it.

Additionally, recommendations for the March 2002 election are enclosed in this issue. Please share them with your families and friends.


At the direction of the membership, Local 798 has established “THE SAN FRANCISCO FIREFIGHTERS LOCAL 798 SURVIVING FAMILIES FUND” for members and their families in time of great need. An account has been created at the San Francisco Fire Credit Union and donations will be gratefully accepted to help fund this vehicle so that in time of tragedy, our brothers and sisters do not go without.

Please, think of this Fund when you chose to make a donation to a charity or if you wish to make a contribution in the name of a loved one.


Main Menu