San Jose Fire Department Improves 9-1-1 Response Times

Part of the San Jose Fire Department’s lagging 9-1-1 response times may have been just a matter of faulty record keeping.

An audit up for review by the Board of Supervisors next week says the city’s computer-aided dispatch would round up response times to the nearest minute. So a time of 7:51 would get logged as an 8-minute response, putting the city in violation of its contract with the county.

In 2011, the county entered into an agreement with the city to provide emergency response services. Per the agreement, the fire department has to respond within 7 minutes, 59 seconds in urban areas and 9 minutes, 59 seconds for suburban neighborhoods 90 percent of the time.

But performance reviews repeatedly showed a failure to meet those standards. After a few warnings over the past couple years, the county told the city in February that it would withhold payment unless it came up with a plan to fix the discrepancy.

The fire department hired an independent auditor, which revealed inaccuracies in its reporting software. Though the data’s preliminary, the county says it appears the agency has improved its response times outside of correcting the computer glitch. The county will follow up on the city audit with by getting its own management auditors to follow up on the case.

More from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agenda for June 10, 2014:

  • Electronic cigarettes are about to get banned on county property and in apartment complexes. Supervisors will hold a hearing to work out details like how much to charge for an offense.
  • A new state law requires the county to identity sites for more homeless shelters. By the latest county, 730 homeless people live in unincorporated parts of the county. Supervisors want to designate several small shelters to accommodate them. But part of the problem is that a lot of residents or businesses don’t want shelters in their neighborhoods, event though it would improve the community’s quality of life by getting people off the streets. The county needs enough shelters to satisfy its state housing requirements and qualify for grants.
  • Supervisors will consider renewing a contract with Parents Helping Parents, a peer-support organization for parents of children with special needs.
  • Training for foster youth advocates will cost $75,000 through next year. There are 900 children in out-of-home placement countywide. Court-appointed advocates become friends and mentors. They get to know a child’s family, teachers, social workers and other people in their support network. They’re trained to understand the effects of trauma and learn to navigate the complexities of the child welfare system. Right now, there is a waiting list of 100 children waiting for an advocate.
  • The county will renew an agreement with Fresh Lifelines for Youth, a mentorship program designed to keep juvenile offenders out in the community instead of behind bars. Mentors provide leadership and law-related education to at-risk youth.
  • Even though county social workers earn more than their peers across the state, the Social Services Agency has had a tough time filling vacancies.
  • The county logged more than a million “extra help” hours last year, hiring part-time contract workers to take on higher-than-usual workloads.
  • Zebra and quagga mussels are infesting our water supply. A group of local agencies are trying to secure a $500,000 grant to help rid the ecosystem of the invasive shellfish.

WHAT: Board of Supervisors meets
WHEN: 9:30am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Clerk of the Board, 408.299.5001

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Jennifer,

    Please, please get your facts strait. The poor response time performance is largely due to a lack of staffing, not reporting errors. While there were problems with the department’s reporting, that was/is not the main issue. The audit you speak did not find fault. The fire department reported and corrected the reporting errors, the audit simply validated the fire department’s work.

    Next time check your facts before publishing something so damning as this.

  2. Are you kidding me…….

    “The San Jose Fire Department’s lagging 9-1-1 response times may have been just a matter of faulty record keeping.”

    The problem is Chuck, Sam and the rest of this clown council has cut public safety to the bone. Spin it any way you want, but Measure B has cost this city from being the top in the country to one of the worst.

    This is not about pensions it is about false promises and poor decisions on this council on spending money. I can go on but these elected officials are idiots.

  3. Wow. A rectified computer glitch just made the engines and trucks faster. Now i guess adjusting my gas guage on my car will improve mileage? This is a pure whitewash of the facts. Dilution of the truth does not change it, it just spreads it around a bit more. I guess we know who you work for Jennifer.

  4. Get out of town with this one!!!! So, in response to poor response time San José simply
    “cooks the books” to make everything seem honky dory. What ever happened to Mayor Reed’s
    “no lying, no cheating, no stealing?” Chuck Reed’s rule in San José has been one of the most
    corrupt, lying, cheating and stealing administration (from City employees) this City has ever seen!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *