Calif. Mayor Gets Heat From Fatal Fire


San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said he would not re-staff local fire station in response to a fire-related death last week in the Golden Hill area.

It took a fire-rescue truck about 30 seconds to knock down a fire raging at a Golden Hill apartment building on Friday morning. It took the fire engine, with its hoses, three-and-a-half minutes to arrive from the Barrio Logan area.

Rolling brownouts implemented last month to save the city money meant Golden Hill's fire engine was not staffed. Sam Taylor, 82, died as a result of the blaze last week. Firefighters Union President Frank De Clercq said he believes the brownout may have cost Taylor his life.

"These types of calls, whether they're fire or medical, seconds count when you're minutes away," said De Clercq.

10News asked Sanders to respond to the issue and he praised the fire department's response time, which was under the acceptable national standard of five minutes.

"It does not sound to me like there's anything that could have prevented that, but I think they did a job in getting there very quickly," said Sanders. "There's always going to be second guessing, but I think it's tragic they're using this to make a political issue."

But issue isn't political to Taylor's family.

"Maybe that extra 3, 4, 5 minutes was just enough to fill his lungs, but he just couldn't fight off," said Taylor's niece, Katherine Thompson.

De Clercq said if the rescue crew arrived in 30 seconds was also accompanied by their engine, the situation may have ended differently.

"That would have made a difference, if you'd had a hose line there to knock down some of that fire. Instead it flashed over and force the firefighters out of the room," said De Clercq.

The engine that would have responded is still out of service as of Monday and as part of the rolling brownout plan, it will be for the rest of the month.

Sanders said he believes the brownouts are working.

"I went with the fire chief's model. Obviously, the model worked well. We had two units there very quickly. I think that means he put together a pretty good model,' said Sanders.

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