Tonight is one of those nights that will have huge ramifications on East County regardless of which option of three the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District chooses. This is one of those meetings and topics people cannot afford to sit back and play Tuesday morning quarterback with tomorrow and second guess; rather it’s a meeting where folks need to be in attendance and offer input.
I see people are encouraging this meeting to be streamed live online or posted after the completion of the meeting. Unfortunately, these are the same folks who fought against Measure S from afar and never bothered showing up to a meeting. These folks apparently want to do the same thing again and offer suggestions from afar rather than in person.
Unfortunately, this is not the type of meeting where folks should rely on a video recording or newspaper article the next day—it will be too late to provide input. I’d encourage these folks to show up and offer input without a stroke of a keyboard.
Tonight’s decision sets in motion a chain of events that affects each person in East County and the “adequate” services we enjoy today will be gone in a few weeks and layoffs are coming. As responsible residents, it’s our duty to ensure the Board doesn’t choose a terrible model.
This decision will affect service levels of East County for at least the next three years while a much larger solution is worked on. Tonight isn’t about a long-term solution; it’s about selecting a service model which the District will discuss three options.
For the record; my preference is a Three-Station Model because the Chief recommends it will provide the best service model for the District as well as the safety for our District and Firefighters. He is the professional, not the Board.
Here is a look at the three options and for the record;
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.
As I wrote on Saturday, the four station models seem like a sexy choice as they appear to give more coverage, but they actually handicap the firefighters from doing their job because two-man crews are very limited on what they can and cannot do on-scene and most time they are waiting for backup before they can spring into action. Whereas a three-man crew can arrive on scene and immediately jump into action while backup is on the way.
If you remember back to the East Diablo Fire Protection District, a lot of those small problems turned into larger problems because of the two-man crews—that is why it was changed to what we have today.
The other side of this is a political play by Brentwood. Based off the staff report; the four-station hybrid model is nothing more than a Brentwood power grab where this model ensures the “floater” engine rarely leaves Brentwood based off the call numbers—it also means they are the only ones in the district not taking cuts.
Again, for the safety of the District and the firefighters, a three-station model is ideal given the choices. Remember, the opponents of Measure S said AMR would step up their game to ensure response times and medical are met, so handicapping our firefighters is not a good choice.
So while people want to offer suggestions on what the District should and should not do, I’d encourage Ms. Hunt, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Barber, and many others to show up and offer their suggestions because there is no “dial a friend” to speak for you. There is no Twitter to tweet in your suggestions for the Board to see. There is no live online forum to follow your keyboard stokes as the meeting progresses.
If people want to be heard, show up! Remember, a voice can’t be heard through a computer monitor during a meeting.
Video or not, these naysayers will still distort the facts as they did with Measure S and take shot at ECCFPD. It should also be noted while the suggestion of video is now being requested; this is coming from the same folks who are urging the District to do everything it can to save each nickel which is somewhat hypocritical.
It’s time to stop with the games while complaining. Show up to the meeting. It’s time for solutions, not bickering over things such as video which is nothing more than a distraction at this point in time. There are a lot bigger problems coming our way compared to viewing a video online.
The only way the Board can know what its residents want today is to either contact them directly or show up to the meeting and let your ideas be heard.
This is too important of a meeting to worry about it tomorrow, the choice is being made tonight while there is no taking it back.
Monday June 11, 2012
3231 Main Street, Oakley CA