Statement: San Diego Fire Chief Javier Mainar told KPBS this week that firefighters want to respond to calls within five minutes 90 percent of the time, but they actually achieve that mark around half the time.

Determination: True

Analysis: Mainar was talking about national standards that fire departments must meet in order to get accredited for safe practices. Accreditation is like an award that most fire departments aspire to achieve and one of the requirements is responding to calls within five minutes 90 percent of the time.

The 90 percent goal is often mentioned in San Diego’s budget discussions or by the local firefighters union, because the city’s Fire Department is not an accredited agency. Its slower response time is the primary reason why some advocates want the city to build 22 additional fire stations.

But city officials also have their own, distinct performance goal for the Fire Department. Their goal is based on the department’s response time in previous years, so the bar is set much lower than the national standard. The city’s 2010 target for the department is responding to calls within five minutes 55 percent of the time.

So here’s how that works out today: Department spokesman Maurice Luque said firefighters respond to calls within five minutes 54 percent of the time. The department is far below the national accreditation goal (90 percent) but nearly at the city goal (55 percent).


Summer Polacek

Summer Polacek was formerly the Development Manager at Voice of San Diego.

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