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Statement: The county has “18 unmanned (fire) stations,” Stephen Whitburn, a community health advocate and candidate for county supervisor, wrote in a press release Sept. 22.

Determination: False

Analysis: Along the campaign trail, Whitburn has called for greater funding of fire protection to improve the county’s response to wildfires. On Sept. 22, Whitburn outlined his first proposal in a press release and it included this excerpt:

Whitburn is requesting that the Board of Supervisors ask for a proposal from Cal-Fire to immediately staff the County’s 18 unmanned stations with full crews through the end of the year.

The press release assumes that the county has 18 fire stations but no firefighters at them. That’s not accurate. The 18 stations are part of the county’s Regional Fire Authority, which pays volunteer firefighters a stipend so at least two are always there. The stations would only be “unmanned” while the volunteer firefighters responded to calls.

When I asked Whitburn’s campaign for clarification, a spokesman acknowledged the error and said Whitburn wanted to increase the minimum number of firefighters from two to four during the fall, when the risk of catastrophic wildfires is the most severe.

Since the 18 fire stations are staffed with at least two volunteer firefighters, and Whitburn’s press release implied otherwise, we’ve called the statement false.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

You can also e-mail new Fact Check suggestions to factcheck@voiceofsandiego.org. What claim should we explore next?

Please contact Keegan Kyle directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/keegankyle.

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