County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said a new report on government spending of fire protection in San Diego County should push local leaders to reassess their resources.

The new report, produced by the National University Research and Policy Institute, compares government spending on fire and medical emergency services in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties. It uses annual budgets to show that San Diego governments cumulatively spend less on fire protection per capita.

Jacob is skeptical of a direct comparison between the counties, but said it would be a valuable resource in gauging the region’s fire protection needs.

“I welcome the report. I haven’t gone through it in great detail yet, but I’m anxious to do that,” she said. “This region is way behind L.A. and Orange that have countywide (fire protection) entities.”

Jacob said the lack of a countywide fire agency in San Diego is “disgraceful.” She also said creating one immediately would not be realistic. She supports a plan to create more partnerships across paid and volunteer fire departments.

Earlier this year, the county board also approved $300,000 for a study of San Diego’s fire protection needs. As Jacob explains, a consultant will determine what the county needs and how much it’s going to cost. The Research and Policy Institute’s report commends the board for this action.

Jacob is optimistic about improving fire protection in San Diego County, but she also questions how effective more funding and resources will be against a natural threat like wildfires. She points to the Station Fire outside Los Angeles. That county spends far more money on fire protection but catastrophic fires still happen.

— KEEGAN KYLE

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