Lowering San Francisco Firefighters’ Retirement Age Will Save Lives

San Francisco firefighters respond to a house fire in Hayes Valley in May. Supervisor Catherine Stefani is proposing a measure to lower the retirement age for city firefighters by three years to 55.

San Francisco Fire Department

In reference to “SF faces $790 million deficit. Superheroes still want to hand out new retirement benefits like Tic Tacs” (Editorial,, July 8): The editorial board unfairly criticizes Supervisor Catherine Stefani’s decision to lower the retirement age for firefighters, saying it is “misleading since she’s practically walking out of City Hall.”

San Francisco firefighters turned to Supervisor Stefani for help. A decade-long experiment in extending firefighters’ careers by three years to age 58 clashed with everything we had learned about cancer and the fire service. We had to fix it.

Cancer is the leading cause of occupational death among firefighters. In San Francisco, more than 300 active and retired firefighters have died of cancer since 2006, and more than 200 have been diagnosed with cancer in the past six years.

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To reduce exposure to cancer-causing materials, we should reduce the incentives for firefighters to stay on the job longer than absolutely necessary. A life of service to San Francisco should not end with a battle with cancer.

This was an issue we brought to Supervisor Stefani’s attention. She listened, acted, and pushed for additional cost-saving measures that were implemented. Now the Board of Supervisors must allow voters to make the final decision.

More letters to the editor

Protecting firefighters from cancer is not “misleading.” It is the right thing to do and we thank Supervisor Stefani for her efforts.

Floyd Rollins, President of San Francisco Fire Fighters Local 798 IAFF

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Don’t underestimate the state bird

In reference to “More and more people are interested in birds, including this 17-year-old San Francisco birdwatcher. Just don’t ask him about quail” (San Francisco,, July 7): The story of the young, enthusiastic birdwatcher warmed my heart until he named our state bird, the beautiful and obligatory California quail, saying it was “overrated” and “stupid.”

I understand how a boy who had not yet experienced the circle of life could make such an ignorant statement about such a noble bird.

In nature, each species has a role to play. Not all are fortunate enough to be top-tier predators.

The male California quail is stunning and his devotion to his mate is unmatched. I have seen them spread their wings to chase gray foxes away from their mates.

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In many birds, the female is left alone to raise her young. I have seen male quails alone with a brood of 15 young, teaching them how to feed and stay safe.

We should all be proud to call this quail our state bird. I hope that one day a young person will see the beauty in such a lovely creature.

Tom Brumfield, The West

Biden is ready to serve

In reference to “Time to Go, Joe” (Letters to the Editor, July 9): This letter highlights the country’s destructive tendency to believe superficial, shallow statements without delving into the details to verify reality.

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In US politics, too many people simply spew criticism that makes no sense, exploiting the lack of intelligence of the majority of the population to discern what is true. Journalists fan the flames, making matters worse.

President Joe Biden is in good enough shape to continue leading this country. Kamala Harris is the perfect replacement.

Michael Jagelski, Piedmont

I say goodbye to them

On July 11, 1958, the San Francisco Giants defeated the Cincinnati Reds 7-4 in 12 innings at Seals Stadium. The late Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda were the stars that day.

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I was there — I had been a baseball fan since I was 8 years old. My parents, siblings, and I sat in the right field bleachers on a summer day, Norman Rockwell style, in a classic baseball stadium.

Here’s my memory of Mays from that day. In the top of the second inning, with two outs and Walt Dropo on second base, Alex Grammas singled to center. Mays lunged, intercepted the ball, and threw a strike to catcher Valmy Thomas at home plate, hitting Dropo by at least 5 feet. Classic Mays.

As for Cepeda, the 20-year-old Baby Bull threw a ball that sailed high, deep and over the center-field fence to give his team a three-homerun victory.

Goodbye, say Hey Kid and Baby Bull. Even though you’re gone, the memories you made live on.