Another Santa Clara County supervisor is calling for more accountability from the San Jose Fire Department.
The department is currently in breach of its contract for failing to respond to Code 3 calls -- so-called "lights and sirens" calls -- within eight minutes 90 percent of the time. SJFD has missed its target times for more than a year.
"EMS response time was dropping like a rock," said Dave Cortese, Santa Clara County supervisor. "We need to hold them accountable, our contract says we can hold them responsible and I think our public expects us to hold them accountable."
Cortese joins Supervisor Joe Simitian in calling for answers and change. But they differ in how to make that change happen.
Simitian proposes holding hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentive pay until the firefighters turn things around. Cortese, however, said withholding the $800,000 would make things worse.
"What I'm proposing is that we release the money that would go to them right now but only under the condition that they submit to a 30-day remedial plan and that for the next five months they meet the 90-percent response time that they're supposed to," Cortese said.
San Jose Fire Department Cleo Doss said any cut in funding will cut tot he bone. As it stands, the department can't make the 90-percent target with its existing staffing, he said.
The national standard calls for two firefighters per thousand residents. San Jose is not close with a 0.3 average per thousand residents.
"At our height we were looking at about 200 to 205 folks on duty per shift," Doss said. "Now we're about 176 on duty per shift, so it makes it very difficult to keep up because the calls are not going to go away."