Safety departments request $3.3M

Ballistic vests, an emergency ambulance and other "critical health and safety equipment" will soon reach their life spans, and Huntington Beach public safety officials are looking to the city to include the costs of replacing the equipment in next year's budget.

At Tuesday's study session, the heads of the police, fire and marine departments told the City Council that about $3.3 million in equipment needs to be replaced in the next 12 to 18 months. The money would need to come from the city's general fund, which covers day-to-day expenses.

"These are things that far exceed what we can handle in our normal operating budgets," said Marine Safety Chief Kyle Lindo.

Councilman Gil Coerper raised concerns about how the city is going to come up with enough money to cover the equipment, but Mayor Pro Tem Jill Hardy had the answer.

"We're going to have a bake sale," she quipped.

The city will decide what is funded as part of its 2010-11 budget, said spokeswoman Laurie Payne.

All the departments are also looking into available grants to cover some of the costs.

The Police Department has presented a list of $1.7 million in equipment replacement and upgrades, not including a $2.5-million helicopter that will need to be replaced in 2013. The items are "big ticket items" the department has not had the budget for, said Lt. Russell Reinhart.

"We need all this stuff. Some of it is critical to have now," while the other stuff will be critical to have soon, he said.

The Police Department is looking to update its communication software, which hasn't been upgraded since October 2005, and its records storage to SIRE, a document management system the city clerk's office uses.

The department currently uses a paper records system and is running out of space, Capt. Dave Bunetta said during the presentation.

The new system would allow the department to scan the documents and digitally store them, eliminating paper records, Reinhart said. The department has been talking about buying SIRE for several years, but hasn't had the budget, he said.

The department is also looking to replace 12 black-and-white vehicles and 12 other vehicles a year that have exceeded 100,000 miles for $650,000 annually, replace 55 portable radios annually for 55 years and use the discarded ones for parts until they can all be replaced. The manufacturer no longer makes the radios or parts to fix them, Bunetta said.

The SWAT team's ballistic vests are also coming up on their five-year life span, and 24 will need to be replaced.

The Marine Safety department is looking to replace 16 lifeguard towers that have exceeded their 15-year life span and are beginning to degrade, Lindo said.

Hurley, a surfwear company, is sponsoring two of the 16 towers, and the department is looking into grants.

Councilman Don Hansen requested staff look into getting all the towers sponsored.

Lindo also told the council members they need to replace a front-end loader used for beach safety and 350 pier deck plates — metal plates that extend the length of the pier covering utilities trenches that have been in place since the pier was built. The plates have lost their nonslip surface and are beginning to "bow," according to the presentation.

The Fire Department is asking to replace one emergency ambulance, 100 sets of turnouts, the protective equipment firefighters wear, and self-contained breathing apparatuses. The latter is used in emergency situations to supply personnel with air, said Fire Chief Patrick McIntosh. The department is looking to replace 45 sets in 2010-11 and 40 in 2011-12.

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