The ECCFPD has provided me with a copy of their Board Packet which as of right now is not uploaded on the ECCFPD website. While I have not gone through the document yet in detail, I wanted to get it out as quick as possible for others to go through it.
With that said, let’s be honest, for at minimum, the next four years we will hear nothing but crickets chirping in East County because there is no plan to increase revenue by the current Board. Measure S was the plan and it went down in flames because voters were ignorant on the consequences. We might as well take the grant and ensure services for two-years.
Here is the information from the staff report.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS AGENDA ITEM NO. D-1
Meeting Date: August 29, 2012
Subject/Title: Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant
Submitted by: Hugh Henderson, Fire Chief
RECOMMENDATION FOR ACTION
Accept FEMA’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant and direct staff to work with FEMA to implement the grant award.
In February the District submitted to FEMA an application for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant was established in 2003 with the intent to improve or restore local fire department staffing and deployment capabilities so they may more effectively respond to emergencies with theory enhanced and/or restored staffing. A SAFER grantee’s response times will be reduced and an appropriate number of trained personnel will be assembled at an emergency scene.
The SAFER grants prior to 2010 were cost-sharing grants for five years and a maximum funding of $100,000 per firefighter. In 2010 FEMA changed the standards lowering the grant award period to two years with 100% funding of the positions and removing the maximum funding of $100,000 per firefighter.
In February of this year the district submitted a grant application to FEMA. At that time, the District was working on the proposed parcel tax for the June 5 election.
The District’s safer grant application was written with two scenarios;
- First scenario — if the proposed parcel tax (Measure S) passed; the grant would have assisted in hiring 9 additional personnel taking our staffing level from 48 or (16 personnel per day) to 54 (18 personnel per day).
- Second scenario — if the proposed parcel tax (Measure S) failed and staffing levels reduced to the current level; the grant, that the District has been awarded, would take the staffing level from its current staffing level of 27 (9 personnel per day daily) to 54 (18 personnel per day) .
On August 24, 2012 the District was advised by FEMA that are being awarded a SAFER grant
The SAFER grant award covers salary and benefits for 27 firefighters for 24 months, for a total of $7,809,480. This will allow the district to rehire the 15 personnel laid-off and hire an additional 12 firefighters.
There are several requirements related to accepting this grant attributable to staffing levels, they are:
- ECCFPD must maintain the 54 firefighter positions for the 24 months of the grant award.
- Engine companies must have a minimum of three personnel per crew.
- All firefighter positions must be filled with full-time employees (no overtime).
- Administratively the grant requires documentation and accounting throughout the grant duration.
There are costs to the District that are not covered under the grant:
- One-time cost for reopening stations – estimated $1,000 per station
- Ongoing costs per station – estimated $25,000 per station per year
It is currently anticipated that one-time and ongoing expenses outlined above should be able to be absorbed within the Districts current budget.
The onetime costs of hiring firefighters that are new to the District are currently estimated to be approximately $7,500 per person (recruitment, equipment and training). However, this total expense will not be known until the District is able to determine the number of returning laid off firefighters as these expenses would not apply to them. A number of these previous employees currently have conditional job offers from other fire agencies and may not be available for re-employment. These additional costs outlined above have not been factored into the current budget; however, it is staffs conclusion that these costs can more than likely be absorbed into the operating budget.
Staff realizes this grant is a short-term fix for the District’s financial problems. On July 1, the District made the hard cuts to put a balanced budget in place by lying off 15 firefighters and closing 3 fire stations.
Since the reduction in staff; the district has been averaging about 18 calls a day.
Staff recommendation is to accept the SAFER grant and continue to work for a long-term solution of the District’s financial issue
Here is a copy of the Board Packet (click below for document) which you want to pay attention to pages 6-35
Board Packet August 29, 2012