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CONFIRE Issues Service Reduction and Fire Station Closure Plan

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The Board of Supervisors will consider approving and authorizing the Fire Chief to implement a plan that reduces service and closes stations due to the failure of the Districts parcel tax ballot measure. Here is a copy of the plan that was provided in the Board Packet.

This is moving pretty quickly but they have to due to lack of funding. While this will be painful, it will highlight just how wrong groups such as the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association and Contra Costa Times Editorial Board was in steering voters down this path–much like East County experienced prior to the FEMA Grant.

This also doesn’t help East County very much as mutual aid/auto aid is now limited.

Below are both the documents from the Agenda

Service Reduction and Fire Station Closure Plan

Since the recession began in 2008, property tax revenue for the Fire District has declined by approximately $32 million. During this period, the Fire District has taken a number of actions to reduce costs in order to maintain essential service delivery.

During the past five years, the District has utilized reserve funds to keep all of our fire stations staffed and protect the community. In an effort to obtain needed revenue, the District placed a parcel tax measure on the ballot in November. Measure Q received support from the majority of the voters. Unfortunately, it did not receive the votes necessary for passage at the “super majority” threshold. The reserve funds have been expended and the District can no longer afford to maintain current service levels.

The service delivery model is based on community threat, industry standards, (e.g. response time, staffing levels, operational capabilities), the risk level the community is willing to accept, and services the community expects/demands. Currently, the District does not meet industry standards or best practices for staffing levels, response times, assembly of an effective firefighting force, or number of specialty units, e.g. truck companies. Reducing resources and closing fire stations will only exacerbate this already challenging situation.

The contingency plan outlined at the October 23, 2012, Board of Directors’ meeting indicated that the District would close four fire stations in January. This would save approximately $3M for the current fiscal year. Closing fire stations reduces expenditures, but it also reduces public protection in the respective areas and across the entire response system. Stations will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Community threat/risk
  • Call volume
  • Ability of adjoining fire stations to “absorb” the call volume and work load
  • Proximity of adjoining automatic and mutual aid fire stations
  • Transportation corridors
  • Impact on response times

The District will work collaboratively with our automatic/mutual aid and private sector partners (e.g., AMR), in an effort to minimize the adverse effects of service reductions. It is important to note that we can utilize other agencies to supplement our response efforts but not to supplant our responsibilities.

In an effort to provide a balance between controlling costs and providing some level of public safety, the following options are provided:

Planned Actions:

  • Close four (4 ) fire stations in early January as previously indicated
  • Savings – Approximately $3M
  • Impact – Reduced service delivery and public safety
  • Efforts to minimize the impact –
    • Leverage automatic/mutual aid, and private sector partners
    • Potentially up-staff one or two units to expedite interior fire attack operations
    • Utilize existing reserve force to provide some coverage for closed stations when available
    • Work to develop and implement an EMS only (paramedic and EMT or 2- EMTs) unit in some or all of the affected stations during peak call volume time periods of 8 A.M. to 8 P.M.
    • Develop and implement an EMS only reserve or volunteer program to cover the affected stations during the non-peak periods
    • Limit the response to some non-life threatening emergencies and public service calls
    • Enhanced use of dynamic resource deployment, e.g. posting
    • Utilize software to evaluate optimal fire station locations and response configurations
    • Continue to monitor and evaluate service delivery impacts

Fire Stations Identified for Closure:

  • Fire Station #4 – 700 Hawthorne Drive, Walnut Creek
  • Fire Station #11 – 6500 Center Avenue, Clayton
  • Fire Station #12 – 1240 Shell Avenue, Martinez
  • Fire Station #16 – 4007 Los Arabis Avenue, Lafayette

Service Reduction Framework:

Purpose:

This plan identifies actions that will be implemented if inadequate funding is available to staff the current 28 fire stations in the District. It is important to recognize that any reduction in staffing and functional units will have an adverse impact on service delivery in the community. This includes:

  • The inability to respond to some types of 911 calls
  • Longer response times to emergency incidents
  • Longer time period to assemble an effective firefighting force to meet operational needs (NFPA-1710)
  • More severe fire conditions and fire spread to exposed buildings and vegetation
  • Altered strategy and tactics to offset increased safety threats/risks
  • Delay in providing life-saving medical treatment and care
  • Limiting the ability to participate in the automatic and mutual aid system in the County and State

This plan will provide a broad framework for the multitude of actions, (e.g. operational personnel, fiscal, public communications, etc.) that must take place if reductions are necessary. The goal is to minimize the adverse impact to the community, ensure the safety of first responders, and communicate effectively with all stakeholder groups. This plan outlines a phased, “soft landing” approach in order to provide time to evaluate and monitor the many dynamics associated with the process.

Timeline:

January 1, 2013 to implementation of the FY-2013/2014 budget cycle.

Functional Steps:

  1. Identify and prioritize up to ten (10) fire stations that will potentially be closed in order to reduce costs. Stations will be selected based on the following criteria:
    1. Community threat/risk
    2. Call volume
    3. Ability of adjoining fire stations to “absorb” the call volume and work load
    4. Proximity of adjoining automatic and mutual aid fire stations
    5. Transportation corridors
    6. Impact on response times
    7. Determine the average number of fire stations that are staffed daily on an overtime basis. This should equate to an average of four to five companies.
    8. Beginning January 1, 2013, overtime will no longer be utilized to staff the four (4) fire stations and those fire stations will be closed. Selection will be based on stations that have the least impact to the overall operation of the District. This will begin to reduce expenses in the FY-12/13 Budget and limit expenditure of reserve funds.
      1. Prior to fire station closures, notify stakeholders and conduct public meetings in the affected areas so the residents are aware of the fire station closures and the potential impact to the community.
      2. Notify automatic aid and mutual aid partners regarding the reduced ability to provide aid and the potential for increased need of aid.
      3. Notify Contra Costa County Emergency Medical Services Agency and American Medical Response (AMR) of the impending reduction in resources and work with them to minimize the impact to the EMS system.
      4. It is recommended that the District will no longer respond to lower priority incidents such as non-life threatening (BLS) medical emergencies, property damage service calls, i.e. broken water pipes, lockouts with no life safety threat, etc.
      5. Reduce response algorithms to certain incident types, e.g. fire alarms to a single unit.
      6. Modify strategy and tactics for firefighting and rescue operations and conduct training for all operational personnel.
      7. Utilize reserve firefighters to the extent possible for overhaul, “fire watch”, incident cleanup, etc.
      8. Evaluate and implement different training delivery methodologies, apparatus repair systems, logistical support, etc. that will minimize the out of service or out of district time for field units.
      9. Secure closed facilities, disconnect utilities, close fueling sites, etc.
      10. Minimum staffing will be maintained at the remaining 24 fire stations until the beginning of the FY-13/14 Budget cycle.
    9. Staff will evaluate the current number of vacancies and the attrition that occurs in early March through the end of the fiscal year.
      1. If a reduction in force is necessary, layoff notifications will be made in accordance with Personnel Management Regulations and applicable Memorandums of Understanding (MOU).
    10. Evaluate appropriate cost reduction strategies or initiatives, e.g. outsourcing services, elimination of programs, etc. and implement as part of the FY-13/14 Budget.
    11. During the FY-13/14 Budget process, evaluate non-operational support positions that will be eliminated or kept vacant to align with the budget.
      1. If a reduction in force is necessary, layoff notifications will be made in accordance with Personnel Management Regulations and applicable MOU’s.
      2. Personnel will be reduced in “rank” as necessary to align with the number of budgeted positions in accordance with “Layoff” Personnel Management Regulations/MOU’s.
    12. Determine the number of fire stations that must be closed in order to align with FY – 13/14 budget projections.
      1. If a reduction in force is necessary, layoff notifications will be made in accordance with Personnel Management Regulations/MOU’s.
      2. Personnel will be reduced in rank as necessary to align with the number of budgeted positions in accordance with “Layoff” Personnel Management Regulations/MOU’s.
      3. Prior to fire station closures, conduct public meetings in the affected areas so the residents are aware of the fire station closures and the potential impact to the community.
      4. Notify automatic aid and mutual aid partners regarding the reduced ability to provide aid and the potential for increased need of aid.
      5. Notify Contra Costa County Emergency Medical Services Agency and American Medical Response (AMR) of the impending reduction in resources and work with them to minimize the impact to the EMS system.
    13. Implement necessary changes to staffing and service levels.
      1. Continue to evaluate/monitor strategy/tactics for safety and effectiveness
      2. Continue to evaluate/monitor service delivery for impact
      3. Continue to evaluate/monitor budget

Source:
http://64.166.146.155/agenda_publish.cfm?mt=ALL&get_month=11&get_year=2012&dsp=ag&seq=252

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Categorised in: CONFIRE, Contra Costa County

3 Responses »

  1. This makes me very sick to my stomach! At least Antioch is not losing our station. I am sure Antioch’s engine will now have limited usage in East County.

  2. Bet it won’t take long for voters to realize they were misled by the contra costa taxpayers association and the CCTimes (just as we were in east county). Both fire departments warned of reductions in service and station closures. ….while at the same time both the taxpayers assoc and CCTimes dismissed this as “scare tactics”.
    Guess we all know now who was telling the truth.

  3. These closure will have a negative effect on East County Fire Protection, as many times a week Fire Engines come over the hill to cover Stations while either Con Fire or East Contra Costa are working fires or other large incidents. It is very sad that the voters of Contra Costa County were duped by the Times, Kris Hunt and Wendy Lack, and their Tea Party Buddy Bill Gram Reefer. Their so called “scare tactics” will unfortunately cost tax payers more money in insurance costs, loss of property, and sadly loss of life. We have seen this scenario play out in communities like: Oakley, Brentwood, BI, and Disco Bay. Several Times there have been 911 medical calls when the AMR Unit is tied up on another call and the Fire Engine is coming from a distance. CoCo Tax will not take any responsibility for the loss of life or increased injury to people affected by these changes.

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