Possible expansion of brownouts

Today, the City Council will receive its Midyear Report on the Budget for the Fiscal Year of 2009/10 and one component is gaining a lot of attention.

As reported on CBS 13 News yesterday, the council will consider (as detailed in the report) expanding the current brownout program set in the Sacramento City Fire Department from one station to two every day beginning March 1, 2009. The Sacramento Bee says City officials are also considering taking up to three engines off the streets by July. All of this comes as the City faces a $50 million deficit.

Budget officials told the Bee the city could save $18 million if labor unions agree to freeze salaries; however, the fire union questions the brownout proposal, characterizing it as “gambling” with response times and safety. Even Mayor Kevin Johnson opposes the plan.

North Sacramento is no stranger to the brownout issue. On August 29, 2008, two homes in Del Paso Heights were destroyed by a three alarm blaze which sent four firefighters to the hospital and displaced four people. About 80 firefighters battled this blaze, and the nearest engine was not in service due to brownouts.

The current brownout stations in North Sacramento are Station 17 and Station 20.

The Council is scheduled to discuss this in the afternoon session, but may push it to the evening session.

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