San Diego's fire chief Tuesday outlined $7.2 million in proposed cuts for fiscal 2011-12 that could result in the sidelining of additional fire engines and laying off firefighters.

The city faces a projected deficit of $72 million in the coming year.

Jay Goldstone, the city's chief operating officer, asked police, fire, park and recreation and library officials to cut $75 million in spending in case a half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot doesn't pass.

In response, fire Chief Javier Mainar recommended eliminating staffing for a seasonal firefighting helicopter, instituting ``brownouts'' for five additional engine companies, laying off up to 60 firefighters and cutting some lifeguard protection.

"In considering all that has been done so far, and our remaining resources, I have concluded that the only realistic way to meet the FY 2012 reduction target is to make further reductions in our fire and lifeguard operations divisions,'' Mainar wrote.

This fiscal year, the city instituted a controversial "brownout'' program that idled eight fire engine companies on a rotating basis in an effort to save about $11.5 million.

The public safety cuts have been used by the mayor's office and fire officials to push for the passage of Proposition D, which would raise about $103 million a year through a half-cent sales tax hike.

Fiscal and pension reform benchmarks attached to Proposition D, coupled with the additional sales tax revenue, are enough to prevent more service reductions and restore those already cut, proponents say.

Those opposed to Proposition D say it will lead to more wasteful spending at City Hall and argue that San Diego's budget should be balanced by overhauling the pension system and streamlining finances.