Sacramento Annually Spends $8 Million More Than Necessary for Emergency Services

The Sacramento Bee's editorial board is urging Sacramento city leaders to follow up on the recommendations from an in-depth study that found the city could save nearly $8 million a year by taking a dozen steps to improve efficiency. The major recommendations, and The Bee's comments:

  • Replace one of two firefighter-paramedics in ambulances with a civilian emergency medical technician." Other cities already have this setup, it wouldn't reduce the level of service, and it would save $3.3 million a year. Medical emergencies – not fires – make up the vast majority of the Fire Department's workload, about 56,000 of 66,000 service calls last year."

  • Cut crew sizes on seven of 24 engine companies – ones stationed in suburban areas – from four firefighters to three. "That would mean 21 fewer firefighters, saving $2.9 million a year. There would be 'minimal impact' on response times or capabilities, the study says."

  • Reduce the number of incentives firefighters can use to pad their pay. "They can now get multiple bonuses for education, training and language skills and for responding to hazardous materials incidents."

  • Stop counting leave time as work hours in calculating overtime. "While the provision is in agreements with the fire union, it's not legally required, and doing away with it could shave $1.8 million a year from overtime costs, a 23 percent reduction." (Source: The Sacramento Bee, May 14.)

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