Today is a sad day in East County as three stations have now been closed and are offline while we say goodbye to over a dozen wonderful firefighters who will be difficult to replace.
I took the opportunity this morning to join Fire Board Member Jim Frazier in visiting Station 93, 94, and 95 as a way to say thank you and show support while leaving the politics of the whole thing at the door as the political situation stinks. We wanted to show support and let them know we care about what happens to them not only today, but also tomorrow and each day going forward.
This isn’t a situation of putting in your service and being forgotten about. I hope others in the community feel the same way and will do whatever they can to ensure these guys are picked up by another District–I have faith Local 1230 will work hard to place these wonderful firefighters we have no lost.
(Station 95 in Bethel Island had its doors open for the last time this morning)
In speaking with Robert Ruddick this morning out on Bethel Island (Station 95), he explained some of the shifting of firefighters that was taking place from demotions that were set to begin at 8:00 am to where remaining staff will be located. He felt bad for the folks on the Island and over the last week or so helped explain some of their options for getting better coverage down the road–some residents even brought them a cake yesterday as a way of saying thank you.
(Station 94 in Knightsen at it’s doors open for the last time this morning)
In speaking with Sam Somerhalder in Knightsen he expressed a bit of disbelief that Knightsen was actually closing its doors at 8:00 am and some of the problems going forward such as increased response times.
In driving by Station 54 we saw news camera’s from Channel 2 so I kept driving as today is about firefighters, not anyone else. So we headed to Station 93 in Oakley instead.
At Station 93, it was a hard pill to swallow watching firefighters pack up for their last shift—what do you say to the guy? I felt horrible and helpless but this particular firefighters is a good man and I know he will land on his feet.
Sitting in Station 93 this morning while listening on the radio of Stations 54, 94, 95 signing off gave me chills while making my stomach upset. It was sad to hear and harder to see the faces of those in the fire station. The mood in the room was disbelief as I am thinking “this is not right”.
Watching Channel 2 news in the station made me ill listening Fire Captain Craig Auzenne explain the response time and how 3-miles is a big difference during an emergency.
A perfect example of what just transpired is you have a Super Bowl winning football team that was just blown up due to cost controls put in place by ownership. Ownership (in our case the voters) could have paid $197 per parcel to retain the players, but chose not to. Now East County is stuck with a team providing a level of service they are willing to pay for but this team will miss the playoffs by a mile and won’t be any fun to watch.
You can relate it to a basketball team trying to win a championship by playing with just 3 players on the court against 5. It’s a losing situation as in our case, you have 3-stations now covering 250 square miles plus water.
This is one of those situations where the people of East County won’t appreciate how great it’s Championship team was until its players move on and the effects of losing seasons begin to pile up.
Could ownership have paid more? Yes! Did they want to? No! The end result is a great team of guys were broken up with the fans (East County residents) paying the consequences.
It really is a sad day in East County as our team of wonderful firefighters has just been handicapped from providing services they are accustomed to giving just as we are accustomed to receiving.
No one wins going forward!