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SJFD Says Greener Fire Station Design Hampers San Jose Response Times

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(CBS) Betty Yu
Betty Yu joined KPIX 5 in November 2013 as a general assign...
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SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The sleek, new eco-friendly design of updated San Jose fire stations is making it more challenging for crews to meet their response time goals, according to fire officials.

“They’re built green, which is some infrastructure in the buildings that didn’t used to be there. They’re built for privacy. They’re built with the exhaust considerations, and so that really has changed the architecture of the building. It really creates a long walk,” said Deputy Fire Chief Robert Sapien.

Captain Sean Lovens took KPIX 5 cameras on a walk from the corner bunk at one station to the company fire engine.

“It’s definitely the farthest spot. So you need to be on your game,” said Lovens. “It’s definitely a long distance to travel, prior to getting ready and moving out the door to an emergency. It’s one of the many hurdles we face.”

Clearing those hurdles on time just got more difficult. On Monday, the city adopted an 80-second overall turnout time, a national standard. Previously, the department standard was 2 minutes. The clock starts the second firefighters are alerted to an emergency and ends the moment they’re out the door.

“It challenges our ability to meet our turnout time goals,” said Sapien.

Last month Santa Clara County Supervisors put the department on the hot seat over its failure to meet required response times and threatened to declare a breach of contract as a result.

Fire officials say there are no shortcuts for getting around the layout of newer fire stations, where the beds are simply farther away from the trucks and engines.

The City of San Jose has 34 fire stations, about a quarter of them are designed with newer layouts.

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