Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis isn’t happy with a recent news release from Holly Carter, one of four candidates for the District 6 Fresno City Council seat.
Carter highlighted the Fresno Fire Department in the release – and not in a positive way. The release late last month was headlined: “The Condition of Our Fresno Fire Department Creates a Public Safety Threat!”
In the release, Carter says that, among other things, the department’s budget has been cut “an astonishing” 25 percent since 2009, daily staffing “is down nearly 20 percent,” and calls for service “have increased 20 percent since 2011.”
Not true on all three counts, Donis says.
During the Great Recession, she says, the department’s budget was cut, but since 2010 it has increased 25.3 percent, not reduced by that amount. “To say the budget has been cut 25 percent is inaccurate,” Donis says.
As for daily staffing, Donis says it is up 9 percent since bottoming out in 2010.
Still, the chief says, Fresno’s minimum daily staffing is low compared to other cities of similar size.
Donis says the department is in “rebuilding” mode. One example of that is seeking a federal grant that would boost minimum daily staffing levels by 12 positions – or four per day. The city should find out during the summer if the grant is approved. If so, it would pay for the positions for two years. After that, the city would have to pick up the cost, about $1.6 million annually.