By: Francis D. Kelly, Secretary
Would you Brown-Out smoke detectors in your own home?

The ubiquitous smoke detector … they’re in hallways, living rooms, etc. but most importantly, they’re in your child’s bedroom. This basic and inexpensive tool provides fire detection and life protection to households and families. The smoke detector avails peace of mind to all parents.

Theoretically you can extend the life of a battery by keeping it in the refrigerator overnight. Or, you could rotate the batteries in smoke detectors from one room to another. Of course, any responsible parent wouldn’t think of removing a life saving warning system just because it was economical.

Today in the San Francisco Fire Department, Brown-Outs have become an economical tool and all too commonplace. As many as four engine companies a day are closed for 24 hours, putting neighborhoods and citizens at risk. The worst part of this scenario is the taxpayer isn’t aware of these egregious acts. Local 798 will never condone such blatant irresponsibility. The most basic and inexpensive line of defense against impending disaster, engine companies, are being Browned-Out just to save the City a few bucks a year.

I believe that Chief Joanne Hayes-White and her Administration are as repulsed by these drastic measures as is Local 798.

Budget cuts have left few options. In Fiscal Year 1990-1991, the SFFD budget was $145 Million, or 11.2% of the City’s total budget of $1.2 Billion. Today, in Fiscal Year 2004-2005, the allocation from the General Fund for the SFFD is $147 Million, or 2.9% of the City’s approximate total budget of $4.8 Billion. Proposition 172 monies are dedicated to public safety, increases the SFFD budget by $35 Million per year. This is the approximate annual cost to the SFFD to maintain EMS services. How can Chief Hayes-White expect to run today’s Fire Department on the same budget that was allocated 15 years ago?

We can no longer put the citizens of San Francisco at risk; there are other options available. Local 798 is adamantly opposed to continued Brown-Outs. Supplemental appropriations from the Board of Supervisors to the Fire Department and/or reconfiguration of the EMS Delivery System must be addressed.


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