The explosion in San Bruno is raising serious concerns about the state of the San Jose Fire Department and how quickly it would be able to respond to a similar tragedy if it happened in the city. Not only has the city failed to reach an agreement with the Firefighters Union about salary cuts and layoffs. It has recently revealed that most of its firefighters live outside the city, hindering response times in the event of a major incident.

Here are some figures to set the tone. Only one in four SJFD firefighters lives in San Jose proper, and just over one in three lives in Santa Clara County. Where do they live? Many in the surrounding counties, but some are as far away as South Lake Tahoe and Chico. One actually lives out of state, in Idaho. That’s a pretty long commute in the event of an emergency if that firefighter is off-duty.

One proposal recently raised is to require firefighters to live within a 50-mile radius of the city. The Firefighters Union has yet to respond to the suggestion.
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