Re Auditor flags fire crews OT (Our Region, Jan. 22): The Sacramento Fire Department's overtime problem is easily remedied by getting out of the ambulance business. In the 1990s, fire departments convinced elected officials that taking over ambulance service from the private providers would be a revenue bonanza. Twenty years later, it should be easy to see that it, in fact, costs taxpayers twice what others pay while depriving other city services of needed money. Fire departments have decided that everyone who calls 911 for any reason should get an immediate fire engine and ambulance. But when fire season breaks out, so does the cash register. As fire crews from every city deploy all over the state, those at home work massive overtime to fill in the vacancies. However, 30 percent of those jobs are on ambulances that could be, and were at one time, provided by the private sector.
-- Kevin K. Tarbell, Sacramento