At the last ECCFPD Board Meeting, just two service model options were being discussed. Now it appears a third option is now on the table which they are calling a Four-Station Hybrid Model which ensures Brentwood keeps its two stations. At first glance, this hybrid option looks the sexiest, but the devil is in the details which is why all crews must be three-personnel.
This “Hybrid Model” calls for three stations staffed with two personnel with a fourth staffed with three-personnel. The reality is this model should be flipped to have a service model with three stations with three personnel and a fourth with a two-man crew as the “floater” engine.
Let me be clear, I will not support ANY model with two-man crews because it means are firefighters are handicapped from doing their jobs. The chief is the professional, not anyone on this fireboard and they should listen to him.
A majority of the time when firefighters already arrive on scene they are stuck waiting on a second engine (wherever else it may be in the District) before they can spring into action. Now, two of the three service models want to further handicapping them with this two-man crew nonsense.
If you go back to 2002, East Diablo Fire Protection District, they were running two-man crews and minor problems grew into larger problems because they did not have the guys on scene fast enough. Those one or two alarm fires turned into three or four due to service models of two-man crews. More to the point, the risk of injury on a two-man crew is higher. Ultimately, this was changed due to safety concerns.
The reality is the play for four stations (two in Brentwood) is nothing more than Brentwood folks trying to play politics. You only have to look at the call volume numbers that are included in the packet to see what is really going on. This board has always put call volume above response time.
That fact alone tells you the 3 man engine will never leave Brentwood which gives them technically the same resources they had a few years back before the first board cuts. For proof, go back to the June 7, 2010 meeting (Board Packet) to see Brentwood had a three-personnel crew and a two-personnel crew. Plain and simple, this a resource grab for Brentwood while leaving the rest of the District with less coverage–meaning, everyone but Brentwood is taking cuts. It’s just wrong!
Some on this Board appear more interested in election votes than ensuring public safety to the entire District–which is their responsibility on this Board, not their council seat. This four station discussion gives the appearance of more coverage when the reality is it handicaps our firefighters and possesses more danger to the public.
This is a conflict of interest which surprised me when I did not see on the agenda that the Board did not include an item which discussed the move from an appointed board to an elected board–remember, its June and folks can begin pulling papers in July for the November Election.
I would urge people to seriously consider the staff recommendation of a three-station model where they say this model provides the best service model for the District as well as the safety for our District and Firefighters—pay attention to the last part where it states “and firefighters”.
Reverting back to two-man crews is taking a step backwards in Public Safety. It is not a good idea if this Board truly wants to promote public safety not just for the community, but also for our firefights. It should be noted in 2002, we did not have the growth we have today… meaning our firefighters now cover more incidents than they did in 2002.
Service Model Options Via Staff Report
Three-Station Model – consists of stations in Brentwood, Discovery Bay, and Oakley. All three stations would be staffed with three personnel consisting of a Fire Captain, Engineer, and Firefighter. The Three-Station Model has higher staffing costs, but those are offset by a reduction in day-to-day station costs. Operating service out of three stations reduces the wear on tear on the existing equipment and will provide additional capital equipment for rotating in and out of service. A three station model would require 27 fire personnel compared to the current 43 FTE’s.
Four-Station Model – consists of two stations in Brentwood, and one station each in Discovery Bay and Oakley. All four stations would be staffed with two personnel, consisting of a Fire Captain and Engineer. The staffing costs associated with the Four-Station Model are reduced by three personnel from the Three-Station Model. This option requires additional day-to-day expenditures associated with an additional station. A four station model would require 24 fire personnel compared to the current 43 FTE’s.
Four-Station Hybrid Model – consists of two stations in Brentwood, and one station each in Discovery Bay and Oakley. Three of the four stations would be staffed with two personnel, consisting of a Fire Captain and Engineer. The fourth station would be staffed with three personnel; consisting of a Fire Captain, Engineer, and Firefighter. It is anticipated that this additional staffing could rotate between Brentwood, Oakley and Discovery Bay but ultimately would be based upon operational needs. The staffing costs associated with the Four-Station Hybrid Model are increased by three personnel from the Four-Station Model. This option requires additional day-to-day expenditures associated with an additional station plus the additional 3 personnel. A four station hybrid model would require 27 fire personnel compared to the current 43 FTE’s.
Operational Impacts and Changes:
All three staffing models will require auto/mutual aid for fires and major incidents within the District and response times are projected to increase. The District will need to make major changes in its responses, priorities to calls, and the use of auto-aid.
1. The response plan would be modified for the number of units responding to an incident. For example vehicle accidents are currently two engines and a Battalion Chief.
2. Non-emergency calls would not be responded to until a District engine was available and would not be responded to with auto or mutual aid to reduce the impact outside agencies.
3. No move-up/station coverage; in other words, if all the engines are covering calls certain areas may not have any coverage until the engine is done with the call.
4. Auto-aid would only be used for emergency calls.
Calls for Service and Response Times:
In 2011 the District responded to 5,126 emergency calls (code 3: light & sirens) with an average response time of 6:27 minutes per call. In addition to the emergency calls, there were 1,134 non-emergency calls within the District during 2011. The breakdown of these calls is as follows: 744 fires, 4569 medicals and 947 public service calls. The total numbers of calls for 2011 was 6,260.
The District received auto-aid from Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) 322 times. They responded with a total of 413 units (some calls require multiple units per call).
The District provided auto-aid to Contra Costa County Fire 171 times with the District responding with 198 units.
The auto-aid numbers do not include move-ups for station coverage.
While all three staffing models will work within the District’s projected revenue, staff is recommending the Three-Station Model to provide a fully staffed three personnel Engine Company to respond to emergencies within the District. This model provides the best service model for the District as well as the safety for our District and Firefighters.
Staff requests further direction from the Board so that it can prepare a budget proposal for adoption at the June 25, 2012 meeting. State law requires the District to adopt a preliminary budget by June 30, and since the parcel tax does not pass, staff believes that the District board will have to take action in June on a balanced budget service model that will take effect on July 1, 2012.