Since 2009, the San Jose Fire Department has responded to emergency calls slower than previously reported. The question is by how much.
In a memo sent out Friday by the city manager’s office, Fire Chief William McDonald explains that “data used in the calculation of the response-time measure were excluded in error.”
The errors were apparently caused by missing reports from fire companies responding to priority calls outside of their assigned areas. Reports for companies responding to emergency calls within their assigned areas were included in the response times, McDonald writes.
The first emergency response vehicle in San Jose is currently expected to arrive on scene within eight minutes, 80 percent of the time. Meanwhile, the national standard for the first company to arrive on scene is within 6 minutes, 90 percent of the time, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
A full report on the incorrect calculations will be released later this month at the Public Safety, Finance, and Strategic Support Committee meeting on Jan. 17.
The fire department had a reduction in staffing several years ago because its union refused a pay cut, unlike other public employee unions, but the city manager’s office has since worked to restaff the department by accepting federal grants the last two years.
Chief McDonald has yet to respond to a message seeking further comment.