San Diego expanding fast response squad to University City after successful pilot program
By David Garrick | 2:20 p.m. July 8, 2015
The city’s budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 includes $600,000 to expand the program beyond a pilot version that’s shrunk response times more than 20 percent since July 2014 in the Encanto neighborhood of southeastern San Diego.
City officials considered using the additional money to make the Encanto squad 24 hours, up from its current 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. schedule, but have decided instead to add a second 12-hour unit in University City, Mainar said.
The two-man unit will start operating in late September or October when the city is scheduled to receive a specially designed vehicle, which is essentially a reconfigured pickup truck that city officials call a “mini fire engine.”
Mainar said potential locations are still being explored, but that the squad would be located in the southern portion of the community.
One motive for choosing University City over other potential locations, such as Liberty Station and San Pasqual, was a city decision last September to abandon the long-planned Regents Road bridge over Rose Canyon, a roadway that would have reduced response times.
In addition, only one of three fire stations planned for the area have been built. Station 35 at Eastgate Mall and Genessee Avenue serves the entire community of more than 100,000, which includes UC San Diego, because stations planned for Nobel Drive in the north and Governor Drive in the south are still in the planning phases.
Mainar said funding has been secured for the Nobel station, but that it will likely be three years before it opens. The city is also working with UCSD to build a fire station on the university’s campus, he said.
City officials say fast response squads should be seen as an interim solution and only part of the city’s plan to address coverage gaps.
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