Michael Harrington is the only one of six candidates in the upcoming Rancho Mirage City Council election to receive the coveted endorsement of the Rancho Mirage Fire Department.

Harrington, 59, a family law attorney, was the only candidate to reach out to seek the endorsement, said Robert Garcia, deputy finance director for District VI of Cal Fire Local 2881. “We don’t typically go out looking for candidates. We let candidates reach out to us.”

Garcia said Harrington has a good grasp and understanding of the issues facing the Fire Department, which include a staff shortage, long work weeks and problems with recruitment and retention.

“Michael was really interested in staffing in our department,” Garcia said. “He’s right to be concerned. The National Fire Protection Association recommends having four people on an engine. Rancho Mirage has staffing for only three per engine.”

Nationwide, the average work week for firefighters is 56 hours, according to Garcia. Rancho Mirage firefighters are averaging 72 hour work weeks and forced into overtime, he said.

“There isn’t enough relief personnel,” Garcia said. “We have real concerns about the long hours. They are a strain on the personnel, a strain on the community, and a strain on the department. There is no time to rest, relax and recuperate. We are concerned about the safety of our staff and the safety of our community.”

Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington

Harrington said it is an honor to be endorsed by Cal Fire Local 2881.

“I have a duty to advocate for the public safety of the residents of our city,” Harrington said. “Our fire department is understaffed and I will advocate for full staffing to ensure the safety of our residents, especially our senior population.”

Harrington said he supports a fully equipped and staffed fire station and engine company for the increased population that the Del Webb development will bring. The incumbents, he said, are discussing an ambulance-only station.

Harrington will be available to discuss public safety and fire service with residents at 9 a.m. Saturday at Koffi, 71380 Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage. The public is welcome to join him.