Aside from Director Cheryl Morgans comments on a potential upcoming parcel tax, it was rather a tame evening at the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District as the Board decided to plan for a series of workshops while they appear to be gearing up for the 2014 election.
Item D-1: Consider the Formation of Board Subcommittees
At the January 7, 2013 board meeting, Director Smith requested more discussion on establishing subcommittees to work in between regular board meetings. The goal was to have more in-depth discussions prior to the Board meetings. The suggested subcommittees include:
- Revenue Enhancement
- Service Models
Director Smith clarified his prior request by stating that a revenue enhancement subcommittee would need to be an information gathering first—he considered it to be more of a ad-hoc committee at this point in time. He suggested that the Budget/Finance and Service models be standing committees going forward.
Vince Wells, Local 1230 President, stated during public comments that he encouraged the Board to identify what its priorities are. Establish those goals first and present them to the public, then go forward with subcommittees. He urged the Board to consider that it has a revenue problem, nothing else really matters if revenue is not properly addressed.
Director Young: Committees would require a lot of time and effort from staff, stating they did not have the staff to do this. Urged the board to be careful on what they want them to review and do. He suggested instead of committees, host workshops with the board. Stated those would be more “fruitful” at this time than a committee. Once we are more established as a Board, he would consider committees.
Director Bouillon: We have 16-months until the election. We have to have an election… a lot will depend on that issue. Suggested the Board cannot do a lot until we figure out how we are going to attack the election. We need to make revenue the big issue.
Director Johansen: He is too concerned right now to come together on priorities and responsibilities. Need to prepare for the next election and revenue streams. Stated he would like to see a workshop first in order to educate the entire board.
Director Bouillon: Suggested bringing back consultant and find out what exactly happened.
Director Morgan: Suggested this board needs to consider cost. How much are we going to spend on the next election? She stated a “risk analysis” is not going to work. “Can we actually pass anything; we will do worse than in the last election.” She stated the public would not be forgiving for the last attempt and have lost supporters.
Lawyer – stepped in and said this discussion was not on the agenda and suggested the board to get back on the topic at hand.
Director Romick: Suggested he was in favor of a strategic meeting before a committee was a good idea. Look at the whole district from finances, spending, everyone needs a basic understanding before we do anything.
While the subcommittee is on hold for a bit, I believe they do need to get the ad-hoc committee started for the next revenue enhancement. This is one thing that cannot be delayed much longer or they will regret it. You need to get a group of residents both in favor/against to find the middle ground on what the number will be—I would assume it will be the lowest number possible to ensure the District can sustain a 5-station model.
On a side note, I asked the chief if there was ever a debrief verbally or in a report, he stated they never got a debrief. This is somewhat of an oversight, anytime you have a consultant you get a debrief at the conclusion of a contract and it should have happened immediately after the election. At this point, the consultant should not charge the district for coming back—if he does, forget it.
As for Director Morgan, I am very disappointed in his comments regarding the next revenue enhancement. Without any additional revenue, its back to layoffs and a 3-station model with additional cuts in the future. Eventually, its bankruptcy and followed by CALFIRE service which will be next to nothing.
D-2: Receive an Update on SAFER Grant and Hiring Process
This information was pretty much off the staff report. The District is been working on open recruitment which closed on November 21, 2012. The District received 353 qualified applicants that took written exams December 6 through December 15 2012. The District received the ranking from the written test on December 21. We interviewed the top 25 on January 3-4. After the interviews, we will send the top 11 candidates through a background check and anticipate having those background checks completed by February 1. After background checks, conditional job offers and medical exams will be completed.
We anticipate starting the 11 new hires on March 1 and getting them through their basic training which will consist of approximately 6 weeks and then a week of shift orientation.
The downtown Brentwood station 54 will open on May 1.
The District will conduct promotional testing for three fire Engineers on April 18 and 19 as part of reopening the downtown Brentwood station.
D-3: Discussion of Policy on Disposition of Surplus District Real Property
During the month of January, district staff is been contacted by three different parties wanting to know the status of the closed fire stations and if the district is interested in either selling the properties or leasing them.
In July 2010 the District closed the downtown Discovery Bay station (58) and the Byron fire station (57) as part of budget constraints and cost savings measures. The District continues to maintain both fire stations. The District does not currently have a policy on surplus in real property.
The Board essentially decided to look more into the cost of maintaining the property and what the cost will be to repair before selling or leasing—they want to know the estimated value. The board pretty much agreed it was better to lease then sell.
One Public Comment card was pulled suggesting that rather than continue paying for the administration to be staffed in downtown Brentwood, that the Chief be moved to one of the closed stations.
My thoughts on this are simple, it saves just $40k and the Chief needs to be located centrally in order to cover the district during an incident. If the chief moves out of that office space, the most likely spot is Station 93.
D-4: Operational Update for January 2013
In reviewing the calls for service for the month of January, there were a total of 572 calls with an average response time of 7:10 minutes. Comparing this to the month of December, the District ran 542 calls with an average response time of 7:32 minutes. The response times for the first six months of 2012 averaged for the District was 6:24 minutes for 3162 calls.
Looking at the response times for closed stations;
- Station 54-downtown Brentwood, had 115 calls in the month of January with an average response time of 7:38 minutes. In December there were a total of 122 calls with an average response time of 7:57 minutes. For the six the first six months of 2012 there were 675 calls with an average response time of 5.23 minutes.
- Station 95-Bethel Island had 34 calls in the month of December with an average response time of 11:52 minutes. In the month of December there were 32 calls with an average response time of 13:06 minutes. For the first six months of 2012 there were 574 calls with an average response time of 7.01 minutes
In the month of January the district received auto aid from Contra Costa County Fire 28 times with them sending 41 units. The District sent auto aid to Contra Costa County Fire 9 times providing them with 9 units. During the month of December, Contra Costa County Fire came into the District 26 times with 38 units and we responded into Contra Costa County Fire 14 times with 16 units.
The Board wanted to know what the chief would consider an “Ideal response time” and Chief Henderson said “anything under 6-minutes”. He explained that the goals were set in 2010 when the stations in Bryon and Discovery Bay closed.
He explained that the suburban goal was 8-minute response for that first engine while rural goal (frontier/country/county line) would be set at 12-minute response for that first engine.
Joel Bryant Thanks Engine 52
During director comments, Joel Bryant shared that there was an incident at his congregation on Sunday where a person went into cardiac arrest during the service. The gentleman had a history of cardiac problems but Bryant shared how professional and quickly the team on Engine 52 mobilized and provided care. He shared how efficiently and professional they acted from providing CPR to providing crowd control.
The next Board Meeting will be held on March 4, 2013