Brentwood Press Focuses on Measure S

Rick Lemyre did a nice recap of Monday’s Fire Board meeting where the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District  laid out what service would look like if voters reject Measure S, a $197 per year fire tax on the June 5 ballot.

Option 1 would close two more stations (Bethel Island and Knightsen would join the Discovery Bay and Byron stations closed in 2010) and staff the remaining four (two in Brentwood, one each in Discovery Bay and Oakley) with two firefighters each. The model would mean there are eight firefighters on duty in the district at any one time, and a total of 24 firefighters would be required. Nineteen of the district’s firefighters would be laid off.

Option 2 closes one additional station, Brentwood’s downtown Station 54. That would leave open Brentwood’s Balfour Road station, plus the Oakley and Discovery Bay stations, each staffed by three firefighters. That plan would mean nine firefighters are always on duty in the district, and that 27 firefighters would keep their jobs (16 would be laid off). To read more click the link Full Article

Also, Vince Wells  and Patricia Foss submitted a couple of Letter to the Editors which provided some nice facts and good perspectives. I’d urge you to click on the links below to read both letters and share them with local residents.

Vince Wells: What Firefighter Compensation Pays For

Patricia Foss: Save Your Fire Department

On a side note, Kris Hunt and John Gonzales wrote one of the most pathetic pieces I’ve seen written in the Brentwood Press since Brad Nix lied about Oakley.   I would encourage folks to issue a response so that the correct facts can be presented prior to the Measure S vote.



About burkforoakley

I call it like I see it . I love my city, I love my community and I want what is best for the people around me. Do the right thing, I will support you. Do the wrong thing, I will oppose you!
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19 Responses to Brentwood Press Focuses on Measure S

  1. Bob says:

    Just read that west county closed a station today. I knew they were in trouble too, but didn’t know it would happen that fast.

    This is why jeff’s idea of a countywide department is ridiculous. You can’t take a group of underfunded districts, combine them, and magically have one that is funded properly. It defies common sense. There simply isn’t that amount of overhead to be saved in a consolidation. Not to mention the years of negotiation that would have to take place to even consider the idea.

    Look at ECCFPD for an example. With a $3.7M shortfall. You would have to extract the equivalent of $80k in savings from each and every of the 45 or so fire fighters on the staff to balance the budget. Most don’t even make that much! Then next year you would have to extract even MORE from each and every one of them as costs rise.

    It’s a completely out of touch with reality idea.

    Don’t even get me started on Kris Hunt’s craziness. $197 won’t do it, but $96 will? WTF?

    She’s been complaining for weeks that the model runs shy in year 5. Then proposes an alternate plan that even with flat staffing runs into the red by year 2 or 3.

    The opposition group needs to get their message straight. This is incompetent flailing around at this point.

  2. Lynindiscobay says:

    There is only one message here! Read these articles and then tell the public you need to raise their pay for all of this nonsense and greed!

    “Former chief Craig Bowen, who retired two years ago at the age of 51, tops the list. He now receives $291,000 a year.

    Christopher Suter, the district’s former deputy chief, is third. He takes in $267,000 a year in pension.

    Richard Probert, another former chief, is fifth. He earns $255,000 a year.

    All of this was in Contra Costa County. I am thinking of putting up a poster right next to the one that says “YES on S”…ehh..might be interesting to see those unemployed folks see this.

  3. I don’t know you but I am not going to let you get away with a hit and run post. Just to correct you, these names you mention may be Contra Costa, but they are all from San Ramon Valley Fire which is not ECCFPD which is a completely different pay scale. It’s like comparing apples to oranges…. If you throw these names into the mix, our Chief is great value based on his salary.
    For the record, your argument is not valid.
    Craig Bowen = San Ramon Valley Fire.
    Christopher Suter = San Ramon Valley Fire
    Richard Probert = San Ramon Valley Fire
    If you put up your poster, you will look like a fool.

    • Lynindiscobay says:

      Boy did I hit a nerve? Do you really think folks will care that is the San Ramon FD?

      You are like most people . You can’t see the big picture. I know where they are from and it doesn’t really matter. It is just one..or 4 actually, since Nowicki also got the treatment..example of the way our tax money is spent. By the way…do you get to retire with 90% of your pay at 50? The gravy train for is over. I believe we have to send a message to our gov’t…Live within your means..and unfortunately the ECCFD is going to get caught up in this mess.

      Your ilk is what made me start checking things out and those four were right at the beginning of my search, so I imagine others will also see it. Just for the record, I showed it to 3 other people..all of them thinking Yes on S..until they saw these articles…..So maybe I don’t look like such a “fool” after all?

  4. You did not hit a nerve, not even close. You are simply comparing apples to oranges.You are talking about pension spiking -that was done in two special (Independant) districts; Orinda-Moraga and San Ramon. Our district is a dependant district and very different.

    They are differently run as in, their own budgets, separate directors and separate pensions which are established by law and their separate board of fire commissioners. Any attempt to compare them to East County or CC County which are DEPENDENT districts fails right out of the gate. This is why when Dan Borenstein tricked the readership, he became chastised over it–Borenstein screwed up!

    Anyway, you fail to mention t key components, East County’s chief make 1/3 of what Orinda/Moraga and San Ramon Chiefs make and their retirement is structured completely differently. Neither of these key and really only components are likely to change in the next century.

    Besides I don’t put too much stalk in anyone who calls Discovery Bay “Disco Bay”. Should we start calling Oakely “Oaky” or Brentwood “Bwood”?

    I guess I am just not that verbally challenged (or lazy)…. or both.

    • Lynindiscobay says:

      LOL…Apples/oranges…ECCFR/ECFD..who cares. And as for lazy..hmmm.OKY works for me. I am very assured that as I continue researching and sharing, I will convince people that all gov’t. needs to live within their means…including the Police and Fire Depts, etc! I don’t much really care where they are and most of my friends don’t either. You are going to have to do better than being sarcastic and trying to be insulting to change my mind. At least I am citing facts…all I have gotten from you is your personal that as it may!

      If you want to change minds you need to do better than this!

      • Bob says:

        Lyn, if you read this weeks’ Press you will see that the district is prepared to live within its means. That was the whole point of the story on 3 station modeling. That is what the available $8M in revenue will support.

        In the event of the measure failing this is what living within their means equates to:

        – Living within their means equals cutting out 1/2 of existing stations

        – Living within their means equals some 911 calls will go unanswered for extended periods of time. Medicals will take priority over reports of smoke, for example. Lives over property is always the order.

        – Living within their means equals some percentage of each day your community will be without an on-duty fire engine within your city limits. If your neighboring community has a call requiring more than one engine or multiple medical calls, your engine may be out of station for multiple periods during a given day. Estimates are around 20% of any given 24 hr period.

        – Living within their means equals only 3 engines available to attack a structure fire that by national standards requires 5. If the neighboring district of ConFire makes similar cuts in stations, which is a real possibility, then any mutual aid to assist with major incidents could be ½ hr or more away. You might want to consider how that would affect say the fire we had in Bethel Island yesterday for a scenario.

        Living within their means will mean lots of things when it comes to service levels and outcomes of incidents. Just be clear on what they are as you cast your vote.

        Good luck with your research.

      • Lynindiscobay says:

        Are you a firefighter? If so, I am reiterating..this is nothing personal, it is purely political now.

        As I understand it, part of that money will go the training and staffing of an EMT? Is that correct? Why does that take precedence over keeping a firefighter on duty and letting the Paramedics/Ambulances do their job?

    • Bob says:

      Lyn, I am not a fire fighter. Just a person who has read up a lot on the issue and has some level of confidence that passing the measure is a better choice than defeating it. The consequences are too great for a defeat.

      I understand people being upset. I understand the origins of people wanting to take it out on fire fighters. But I can honestly tell you it is misplaced if you look at the entirety of the picture. But I am not here to lecture, though I am happy to discuss the issue with you calmly and with clearly supported facts if that’s what you would like.

      But to directly address the concerns you expressed:

      1) There is about 5% of the proposed assessment that is earmarked for adding paramedic capabilities to the engines. The service would be rolled out over several years. One key thing I would ask that you understand: the Paramedic does not replace a fire fighter. The Paramedic _IS_ a fire fighter. Just one who has taken on additional skills and assignments on the engine.

      As it turns out, because of the number and location of the Paramedics that we currently have through AMR, their overall response times are longer than the engines. By several minutes. You might not think that is a big deal. But in an emergency, seconds will seem like minutes and minutes like hours if it is your loved one needing help. The mind does funny things in those kinds of situations.

      2) The program does not replace the ambulance. We only have 1 and it’s stationed in Brentwood. It’s purpose is to transport. Not to act as a first responder. You don’t have to take my word for it. If you call the contact person at AMR who handles the county contract, I believe here name is Leslie, she can confirm to you what I’m saying.

      3) There is no cost to us in the district for training of these paramedics. The existing contract between the county and AMR for the ambulance has a provision within it that AMR must provide training at no cost to paramedics in the fire districts. I would be happy to email or send you a link to the document which spells this out.

      Lyn, there are laws on the books, both at the federal level and the state, that assign primary pre-hospital 911 care to fire districts. It’s a tradition and practice that was started back in the 60s. The Federal EMS Act of 1973 that was put into law by then President Nixon was one of the milestones. I don’t know how old you are, but do you remember Alan Cranston? He brought that bill forward. It passed one or both houses of Congress unanimously. They saw that much importance in it. Later, John Garamendi played a major role in getting similar legislation put into place here in California. These duties and assignments and legal authority are what’s collectively known as our health and fire safety code. Just a fancy name for the group of laws that spells out who does what. That’s why some of the silliness you might have read here about scrapping existing fire districts and making some countywide thing is impossible. The law simply doesn’t give our Board of Supervisors the authority to do that.

      Now that’s way more information than you asked for. But the point I am trying to make is the AMR paramedics were never intended to be our front line defense for emergency medical. They were put in place as east country was outgrowing available EMS. They were intended to a bridge. Even the AMR representatives can tell you this and explain how they rely on our fire department for prep of medical scenes for transport. Transport is really what they are about. The quick response paramedics that the county put upon them as a requirement is one they would just as soon see go away tomorrow.

      I’m sorry to see you and Mike get off on the wrong foot. I see your frustration and anger. But I also see his points. Because they are facts. Those examples you cited were abuse. There is no question. Everybody familiar with it knows that. But the fact is that can’t happen in _THIS_ fire district.

      Just a couple of more minor points, Chiefs are not salaried through negotiations of the unions. Those salaries are done through the governing body of the district. That structure is so that there is accountability to the voters like yourself. Now we are not currently an elected governing board because we are so new. But after this mess is settled, even if it’s not for years down the road, the board will at some point be elected and fully accountable to you through your vote at the ballot box. That way there are no special favors handed out without you have the ability to thump someone for it.

      More than I intended to write, but I’m again appealing for some productive dialog with the hope that it furthers understanding. I thank you for taking the time to get on the Net and research. You’re already miles ahead of what many voters will do.


      • Lynindiscobay says:

        Thank you for being informative and respectful. Much more than burkforoakley..whoever that is! I just might start calling it OKY…just kidding!

        Open and honest dialog is a calling, mudslinging and scare tactics just make me mad. They buy nothing!

        I am very willing to listen to facts. I know that stations will be closed and I know that jobs will be lost, but I also know that nothing will change in the bureaucracy we live with today…unless we voters say enough is enough! I haven’t heard anyone say that they will start reigning in pensions/contributions, raise the retirement ages, have individual contributions made to a retirement plan, etc.

        I can’t say that I agree with Mr. Cranston’s “law” and I do, unfortunately, have personal experience with this.

        I think as a reasonable person you can see my point..but let me be blunt…What concessions do I get, as a taxpayer, if I vote for the extra tax? I personally have only seen threats…reduced service, higher insurance rates, etc. I want to see change!

        You are half way there…keep going! lol I am a hard nut to crack, but you are going about it the right way!


      • Bob says:

        Linda, I’m not sure I got kudos or got shot based on the comment from 7:20pm. LOL

        But I go forward with good intentions.

        You asked if concessions on pensions are on the table. The answer is: absolutely. The fire fighters and the union are reasonable. They have taken concessions for years leading up to the dire situation we are in. But they also recognize the reality of our economy and the public sentiment as a whole. I do think they have been unfairly vilified.

        For some basics, and I don’t say this to insult your intelligence. I’m just not assuming you know this: 3@50 You have surely heard a lot about it, especially if you have been reading the local paper the last few weeks. Now 3@50 DOES NOT mean that fire fighters all get to retire at age 50 with 90% of their pay forever. That’s what some in the press have insisted over and over. 3@50 means that beginning at age 50 you can get receive 3% of your salary for each year of service. Could you THEORETICALLY get 90% of salary at age 50? Yes. If you joined the department at age 20. I have not asked, but I don’t believe we have a single instance of that in our department.

        Now you probably think that’s a pretty generous retirement and I can’t really argue with you. But keep in mind, it’s structured that way for a reason. Fire fighting is a young person’s profession. The physical demands alone dictate that. Try lugging hundreds of pounds of hose around or moving 100+ lb ladders. You’ll understand it’s not the type of job for a 60 year old. There is also TREMENDOUS stress from the job. Did you know the #1 killer of fire fighters on the job is not an occupational threat like burning up in a building. It’s having a heart attack on the job. Have you seen firemen? A pretty physically fit bunch, overall. So this isn’t a case of a bunch of fat donut eaters just tipping over. It’s real and identifiable stress taking these guys out before their time.

        That demanding and somewhat life shortening profession is why the pensions are structured the way they are. You can’t have engines full of 60 year olds responding to fires and medicals with all the stresses involved. You would need an army of ambulances to support all the guys who would be tipping over and dying or becoming permanent disability cases.

        Disability is another statistics that points to the “young person” nature of the job. Workman’s comp claims in the fire fighting profession climb 700% between the ages of 50 and 55. This is why the suggestions of simply raising retirement ages and forcing these people to stay longer is flawed. Forcing that will skyrocket the disability claims and you and I are on the hook for those for the life of that individual.

        All that being said, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for reform. But laws don’t allow you to retroactively take back plans that have already been awarded. Pension reform will amount to a tiered system where all new people coming in will receive a less lucrative pension plan.

        There are those, some of whom have posted here, who have suggested the district seek bankruptcy to escape these pensions and start over. I find that personally offensive. It is a violation of trust that lured people to these jobs. It defeats moral. It reduces job security. But over and above all of that it such liabilities cannot be discharged in bankruptcy in California anyway. But it’s a shame to see such suggestions to leave these people with nothing.

        Finally, you asked what do you get as a taxpayer if you vote for the tax. First and foremost you maintain existing service. The talk of station closures if this doesn’t pass are not threats. As much as the opposition has tried to paint them as such. The cuts will be forced upon the district due to lack of money.

        Here’s why: the district is about 94% funded through property tax revenues. It receives no general fund money and only a pittance through other sources. 5 years ago they were receiving $12M annually. After the housing market crash and slow bounce along the bottom that we are in now, it has been reduced to only $8M. Think about that for a second. If the housing market had only remained flat from where it was 5 years ago, you and I are not having this discussion. Because there would still be sufficient money in prop tax revenues to fund the 6 station district. It would be tight, but it would still be doable and the district would still have reserve money in the bank.

        But that is history we cannot change. We are where we are. We can only work together to find a solution.

        One last thing is that on top of MAINTAINING your existing service, you will receive a MODEST, over time, increase in services with the paramedics being slowly added to the engines. What that means to you personally is a reduction of MINUTES if at some point in the future you find yourself needing a medical call. It’s like buying insurance. You don’t buy it for what you need done today. You buy it to protect yourself from the unexpected in the future. Unfortunately this paramedic thing has become a major red herring when it is only 5% of the proposed amount. Unfortunately ballot measures involving assessments can’t be done like multiple choice questions. There are people who demand that one section be removed or they won’t even entertain it. The election system isn’t set up to do that. The discussion took place over the course of a year, the people in position to make the decisions decided to include it, so here we are. I personally see the value in it, but you may not. I respect that.

        Hopefully I’ve given you more food for thought. But don’t blindly take my word for this stuff if you have doubts. I’m again happy to provide you with a load of official documents and reports which support all of what I’m saying. The most important thing is you being comfortable to cast your vote for what you have as the priorities.

        Thank you, Linda, for hanging in there and being a good sport.

      • Lynindiscobay says:

        lmao…not a Firefighter..well you must be something close to that..a negotiator, board member??. You know way too much to be an ordinary me. And you did get other remark was to OKY! I hate being called lazy or stupid by someone who has no clue who I am.

        I do understand the 3@50. I was a Technical Mgr. for a large corporation, who started “downsizing” way back when, so I am pretty saavy on some of those retirement things! I am sure not everyone gets 90%, but I do know of one personally who does..then of course there is your 4 chiefs…lol!

        Let me ask another question…Do you all..ECCFD that is..contribute to your own retirement fund? Or is all funded by the city/county you work in?

        Does ECCFD allow..or have bargained for the the rules that allow >>that dirty word..SPIKING?

        I do understand that it is a young mans job and agree with some of your statements to a point. That is the same reasoning they give to support millions of dollars to throw a baseball . I don’t agree with that either. My grandson can’t afford to go see them.

        I also applaud not taking raises…..but none of this shows the taxpayer what is going to change so we don’t end up in this mess again in 3 or 4 yrs. How can you ask us to believe things will change without concrete actions on your part.

        Off the subject maybe..but I worked/ volunteered at the APD for 8 months. I can tell you the waste of money doing things that technology can do, and some of it was just creating a program..was mind boggling. I guess I am a bit skeptical of any gov’t. run system.

        Still thinking..

      • Lynindiscobay says:

        P.S. Did you scare off Mike?

    • Lynindiscobay says:

      You know what…that last remark really makes mad…you are a first class in donkey_!!

  5. Lynindiscobay says:

    oops..I meant ECFD..I am sure you would have made some demeaning remark about my typing skills..which admittedly aren’t all that great.

  6. Are you listening to yourself? I just told you San Ramon and ECCFPD are different agencies with different set of rules based on how they were set up. That is not an opinion, that is fact.

    • Lynindiscobay says:

      I can’t hear what I type…But I can see what I type and I TOLD YOU..we do not care whether it is ECCFD or San Ramon or not! We are tired of taxes and watching our tax money being spent like, and for example..SPIKING..or getting 90% of ones salary for retirement at 50 yrs old! If private corporations offered that type of benefits they would go broke. But not the gov’t…they just RAISE TAXES!!!!! Spiking is not the problem, it is a sympton ..if they run out of money they can just raise taxes…and this needs to be addressed. The only influence I can have is to differ with your opinion and share my reasons.

      Are you a firefighter, a spouse of a firefighter maybe? If so, can you tell me for example why the FD sends out a firetruck for a death or a stabbing or a dead body? Is that not a Police Officers venue?

      I am not going to continue this debate if you can’t give me some solid facts. Maybe we can take on the Post Office debate next?…lol

    • Lynindiscobay says:

      I just thought I would quit picking on ECFD and throw these stats in for other areas:

      In the state of California, fire chiefs earn salaries up to $156,500, which is significantly above the national average.

      If you refer to Sacramento’s reported payroll data, the average pension fund contribution per firefighter per year is $31K, which means – since the City pays 100% of this
      contribution and the firefighters contribute zero in the form of payroll withholding – the average compensation for the average Sacramento firefighter is actually $144K per

  7. Lynindiscobay says:

    And I am sorry, but I didn’t get your response on OKY..for Oakley. Now that is about as childish as your LAZY comment. If you lived in Discovery Bay, Discovery Bay , Ca….you would get tired of writing/typing it all out! So you see..not lazy,,just keeping it simple…and YES…You did hit a least I can admit it.

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