Firefighter Training, Firefighting

San Jose Fire Officials Detail Response-Time Data Error

The San Jose Fire Department (CA) has likely missed its response-time targets more often than previously reported due to a data collection error, but officials would not speculate what the actual figures might show, reports the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

Chief William McDonald had alerted the mayor and City Council in a memorandum three weeks ago that there was a problem with the response time reporting, a key performance measure used to gauge how quickly firefighters arrive after an emergency call.

But at a public safety committee meeting Thursday, fire officials who explained how the data error occurred would not say what the actual response times might be.

“I’m not going to speculate,” said Deputy Chief Gaudenz Panholzer, adding that the department expects to collect correct data going forward, but that comparisons with past years may prove difficult.

The response-time issue has become a political hot-potato after years of Fire Department cutbacks as the city struggled to close budget deficits driven by a sharp rise in employee retirement costs. Firefighters accused city leaders of jeopardizing public safety with budget cuts while city leaders argued the cuts stemmed from benefit increases the city couldn’t afford.

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