SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Cities and counties would shoulder much more of the responsibility for fighting wild land fires in the budget unveiled this week by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown’s budget proposal would save $250 million by reducing CalFire engine crews from four to three, eliminating 700 jobs from the state firefighting agency’s payroll but preserving resources.

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KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

“The governor’s proposal does not close any fire stations and it maintains the number of CalFire engines that have available to respond to emergencies throughout California,” said Janet Upton, deputy director of CalFire.

The firefighters union argued the cut was more severe than it appears because one less person on an engine can nearly double a crew’s response time on a wild land fire.

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“With four people on a crew, it can be up to 41 percent more efficient in terms of rolling out those hose lines and getting water on a wild land fire more quickly,” said Carroll Wills, spokesman for the California Professional Firefighters.

The holy grail of rural fire fighting situations is keeping the flames under 10 acres, he said.

Counties with large amounts of open space such as Santa Clara would bear the brunt of the cuts, said Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese.

“We still have huge agricultural areas, huge grassland areas, the Mountain Hamilton range and in South County,” Cortese said.

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