Brentwood Council Candidate Suggests Leaving ECCFPD

Carissa Pillow, a candidate for Brentwood City Council, posted something interesting on her blog today regarding last night’s Brentwood City Council meeting that I find appalling.

First off, shame on the Brentwood City Council for putting this Fire Service Model blame  all on Councilman Joel Bryant as the swing vote. The last the last time I checked ECCFPD stood for East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, not the Brentwood Fire District.

Furthermore, the reality is Mr. Bryant is one vote of nine and is the only one in Brentwood to remove his council hat and put on his ECCFPD hat while listening to the fire professionals and the public from Monday’s meeting.

Let me be clear, this is not Brentwoods district which is exactly why Brentwood is outnumbered by the other directors.   If Brentwood continues its power play then it would be in Discovery Bay’s, Oakley’s and even  the County’s best interest to bring litigation against the specific directors showing that are demonstrating self-serving actions which I believe would be a slam dunk—ultimately, they would be relieved of their highest seat in office.

Apparently Steve Barr, Erick Stonebarger and Bob Brockman think they are smarter than the two fire chiefs and many captains’ who made recommendations on which service model is best.   I’d like to know where these three directors can explain where they got all this fire science and resource deployment know-how all the sudden.

More to the point, not one person spoke up in favor of a two-man fire crew at Monday’s meeting which means they were not listening to the public anyway! They were looking out for their own special interests in Brentwood when they should be looking out for the District.  Many Brentwood folks at the meeting spoke out against two-man crews. It’ didn’t matter to these three Brentwood stooges, they already had their minds made up which is a dangerous way to govern!

I salute Councilman Bryant for making the courageous decision of looking at the District while he chose not to sell out the firefighters and Local 1230. He went with advice of professionals, not inexperienced board directors which is exactly what the other four board members did in joining Bryant with their vote.

Now onto Ms. Pillows who is running for a council seat. She is now questioning the leadership of the Board but I’ve never heard her speak at a single meeting nor offer a letter to the editor with suggestions on fire services over the last two years this had been discussed. She is a hypocrite and a “Johnny come lately” with her post which I’ve included the fire portion of her council recap below.

She can question the board all she wants, but she provided no input up until today on fire services. Meanwhile,  her solution is to abandon ship and leave the District. Good luck with that one considering LAFCO would never allow it!

This suggestion of leaving the District is nothing more than a distraction, a waste of time, and doesn’t bring us any closer to a long-term solution.

Like Council members Barr, Stonebarger and Brockman, she is again her thinking on behalf of Brentwood when it’s a Districts problem. What Ms. Pillow should be doing is urging the Brentwood Council and staff to come up with a plan to assist the District as partner, not disgrace it.

I would encourage Ms. Pillows to attend the June 25 meeting and present this suggestion to the Board and see just how far it goes.  Until then, I say welcome to the party Brentwood because the rest of us had cuts to our service for years which have effected response times.

Via Ms. Pillows Blog:

Old Business:  Fire.

Measure S failed.  The Fire Board had several choices before them.  They could have voted for a 4 station hybrid model that would have allowed Brentwood to retain both fire stations, one fire station in Disco Bay and one in Oakley.  The Fire Board that has our Vice mayor and our 3 councilmen representing Brentwood presiding alongside representation from the other areas of the district, voted against the 4 station model.  Therefore, our downtown fire station will close.

Steve Barr’s comments:  He felt the voters’ decisions were completely disregarded during the discussion, as the voters clearly are looking for fiscal responsibility from this Fire District.  Instead of taking a hard look at fresh options to balance the budget with a 2 staff per engine model, the Board decided on a model that remains unsustainable.  The 2 staff per engine model HAS been used in the past, and while not ideal, it does work.

Erik Stonebarger’s comments:  He expressed EXTREME disappointment that the Board opted to close Brentwood’s downtown fire station.  He remarked that Brentwood uses 50% of the fire services, and we are now completely underserved by the district.  He feels Brentwood was “sold down the river”.

Bob Brockman’s comments:  Bob did not feel the voters were completely ignored, but also expressed disappointment with the decision.  He did appreciate the renewed interest in voluntary service and looks forward to new ideas on supplementing fire service in the future.

Joel Bryant’s comments:  Joel was the only Brentwood representative that voted for the 3 staff per engine model.  His vote was the swing vote that closed down Brentwood’s downtown fire station.  He was visibly distraught as the other council members held him accountable for his decision.  He stated that he felt compelled to defer to the judgment of the professionals who do the job.  The Fire Department prefers the 3 staff per engine model, and he based his decision on their professional judgment.

The Mayor (Bob Taylor) wanted to know:  Is Brentwood SAFE?

The opinion of all fire directors:  NO.  Brentwood is NOT SAFE FROM FIRE.

Carissa’s big O:  This district is a disaster!  It has been touch and go since it was developed.  The archive articles in the Brentwood Press clearly show the continuous questions of the leadership.  The budgetary wall that the district was up against was known about 2 years ago.  Instead of dealing with these problems 2 years ago, the district pinned the voter’s backs against the wall and insisted on a last minute tax levy to “save” the district.  I am unimpressed with this posturing tactic.  This was a failure of the district.

Yes.  I know that the revenue the district receives was directly impacted by the decrease in valuation of properties.  Yes.  This problem was a revenue problem.  It was a revenue problem that developed in 2008.  That was 4 years ago.  Why weren’t the budgets adjusted 4 years ago???  The solutions should have been long since planned.  Failure to plan is PLANNING TO FAIL!  What a disaster!

My comments to the council:  I am gravely concerned about the fire district.  Our homes are surrounded by dry grass and we live in a community with a large senior population.  This city cannot risk it’s safety for this failed fire district.  We should leave the ECC Fire district, go local and recreate the Brentwood Fire District.  I’m sure the fiscal impact is prohibitive.  And I’m sure we’ll face litigation.  But when coalition with other communities fail due to questionable leadership decisions; we must take action!  The worst thing we can do is sit and wait.  Inaction is the worst action that we can take.  We must, at the very least, look take a hard look at walking away from this mess.

I’m sure that there are some people who will hate my commentary here.  I betchya that I take some heat for this opinion!  I’m okay with that.  We ALL know that the taxpayers were backed into a corner on this issue.  I personally feel that the marketing of Measure S was substandard.  Now we all get to pay for the mistakes.  Brentwood deserves better than this.  We need to take back fire, the same way that we took back trash.  I believe that the closer to home our tax dollars stay, the more responsible the men with the wallets will be.  IMHO.

Oh, and Joel Bryant, not cool.  Voting against Brentwood’s downtown fire station.  Not. Cool.


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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9 Responses to Brentwood Council Candidate Suggests Leaving ECCFPD

  1. Frank S says:

    That is Brentwood for you. Nice job Joel Bryant for listening to the professionals. This is one candidate who I think is not ready to serve Brentwood.

  2. Dear Mike,

    Just as your primary interest is Oakley, my primary interest is Brentwood. While I am concerned about Oakley, Disco Bay, Knightsen, and Bethel Island, I live in Brentwood. Therefore, it just makes sense that my primary concern is the place I where I hang my hat. And because that place also happens to be surrounded by very, very dry grass; fire matters to me.

    I noted in your reply to my blog post that you neglected to mention that I too campaigned for measure “S”. You also didn’t care to mention that I did attend the town hall meeting in Brentwood, and offered full support of the measure. You did however call me a name: “Johnny come lately”, and that is something that I’d like to address. This is a factually incorrect statement. I was present at the town hall meeting held at Brentwood’s City Hall and I have attended every city council meeting when fire was presented. I, infact, spoke up at several meetings urging the city council to offer full and unwavering support to measure S. This, by the way, I did completely outside of my libertarian ideology because I felt the tax measure to be so completely critical to the safety of my community. I didn’t urge the council to break away from the fire district because I wanted an absolute showing of solidarity from our council. I wanted measure “S” to pass. I did, however, encouraged my council representatives to have a back up plan BECAUSE failing to plan is planning to fail. I have been fully engaged in this situation for the last year, and I have researched this issue in depth. I know that one year is nothing compared to the 22 years of service that some of our council has had. However, I never claimed to be a historical perspective. I am offering a fresh perspective. And, it has been my experience in the twenty years of my adult life, that the further away you send your tax dollars; the more irresponsible the government is with your money. That is why, I chose to advocate an even more local district. I understand that may not be fiscally possible. I still want to see both of our Brentwood stations up and running. How that is going to happen, I do not know. I do know that we owe it to 52,000 residents of Brentwood to try and figure that mess out.

    Today, I spent the day speaking with the firefighters and numerous concerned Brentwood AND Oakley residents. The people I spoke with range from being a resident for 5 years to being residents for over 30 years. I definitely gained a full historical picture, without question! I will be making an appointment to go on a ride along tomorrow, having spent two hours speaking with the firefighters at the downtown Brentwood station. They have convinced me that two men on a truck does not meet the standard of care for a properly run fire district. I wish the taxpayers could have heard the logistical perspective that they presented. I am resolute that one firestation covering Brentwood is a horrible idea, and we must restore that service ASAP.

    At this point, bearing in mind that I still need to speak with the fire chief and go on a ride along; I feel very strongly that the fire service should immediately stop taking patient care calls as these calls represent 90% of the calls received. These patient care calls should be fielded by EMS, and ACLS equipped ambulance services. I do not know if there is legislation prohibiting that sort of triage, but I’m certain of this: I will know soon. I will report that information in a follow up blog in short order. AMS service is a fee for service company, and they are fully equipped to triage, treat and run with critical patients. Fire, as you know, is not fee for service and does not have the luxury of billing for their calls. Until they can bill for patient care calls, they should leave those calls to the service that collects the cash.

    Again, I am sorry if I have hurt feelings with my commentary. My disagreement with policy making decisions is not on any level personal, although I know it feels personal when criticism is received. I am an exceedingly reasonable person, and I pull no punches. This is not political. This is my true concern for my community. And, Mike, that is what I am supposed to be doing as a person who wants to represent my community at the City Council level.

    That is my piece for today. I respect your opinion and hope you will continue to help guide our district to a decision that meets the need of the areas that the ECC Fire district follows.

    Now, I’d like to give a HUGE shout out to the firemen at station 54 in downtown Brentwood. Your conversation with me was lengthy, detailed and generous. I respect and fully appreciate the time that you shared with me today. I look very forward to taking a ride along with you SOON. In my books, you are absolute rock stars. Heroes in every sense of the word. I am proud to have you serving Brentwood, and I am so deeply saddened to see your station shut its doors.


    Carissa Pillow, RN, CCRN
    Candidate for Brentwood City Council

    • davepa says:

      So Correct Mrs. Pillow if I am wrong but am I to understand that your belief is the Fire Department should not respond to EMS calls? If that is the case I must ask you then, Could you being a nurse have anything to do with this. I do work in a Bay Area department and is what you are saying is that if I am on duty at my station and a person having a MI across the street from my station does not get a response from my engine that would take 12 seconds to respond across the street however the nearest ambulance is 4 and at times 7 miles away hmmmmm yes mam you are right, you may want do do a ride along and I truly hope you think this one out. I wonder if the family members would be upset if trained and qualified people that their tax dollars pay for did not respond.

      Please think of something else cause this will never fly. So then you are saying that East Contra Costa would be the only department in the state for the most part to NOT respond to a medical emergeny and you are smarter then ALL the departments, EMS officials and the doctor that heads up a counties EMS systems. I am not sure who the doctor is in this county but you may know being a nurse, please contact him and give your opinion on this and suggest to him that fire does not need to respond to a medical emergeny.

      PLEASE do the ride along you have advised you are going to take.

    • Due to the hit and run nature of your post with many many topics… sorry if I do not respond t each point you raised. Since you are running for Brentwood Council, it is fair that you would fight for Brentwood as opposed to say Bethel Island or Discovery Bay, but your are mixing up the purpose of East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District with Brentwood City Council—both serve two different hats which some on the Brentwood Council seem to have forgot. As for the grass fires you refer to, that is not what Brentwood is known for anyway. But I’ll give you a pass based on why you are focused on just Brentwood, but its a dangerous stance to take if you are elected and forced to work with other officials in the cities you now are advocating against.

      My claim of “Johnny Come Lately” is simple; this issue has been going on since 1978 and I know you can attend a Brentwood City Council Meeting due to your blog recaps, but you have not attended a fireboard meeting and heard the discussions and see how they work—it’s a different animal compared to what you likely hear from Brentwood Councilmembers. I can appreciate your unwavering support of Measure S, but I never questioned that and I told you that when we met a few weeks back. There are far greater problems with the District, which I am aware you have figured out in the last few days with the ECCFPD which makes Measure S look very small in the pecking order.

      As for your statement saying you didn’t urge the Board to leave the District, I copied and pasted it differently out of your blog. Again, maybe a poor choice of wording, but you did write, “This city cannot risk its safety for this failed fire district. We should leave the ECC Fire district, go local and recreate the Brentwood Fire District.”

      As for Brentwood, no doubt it needs two stations, I do not disagree with you there nor with Steve Barr and in fact, I’d like to see them have up to four stations in the future when funding allows it, but the they missed the cuts two years ago and it’s now just hitting them, but the rest of the District have been living with cuts for years now.

      This “fresh perspective” you are coming up with is nothing new as Brentwood tried to move forward with their own Fire Dept. and got rejected pretty quickly in the process.

      What is stunning to me is you had no problem putting out an opinion without talking to the firefighters first or even reading the Chiefs/Staff suggestion on the service models which had been available since early May—to my knowledge, not even an email asking questions or talking to the firefighters prior. You reacted instead of finding out information. Firefighter safety and being able to act is just as important as public safety–nothing wrong with that, I’ve fallen victim to this many times. Again, you are siding with Brentwood and ignoring the professionals based on emotion of Brentwood and not reality of an entire District.

      This reckless idea that people claim we should stop taking patient care calls is ridiculous. It’s a non-starter for me. If you had attended the Fireboard meeting on Monday, you would have realized a call came into City Hall where a woman stopped breathing, the fire station across the street responded and saved the woman’s life. If they had waited for AMR or someone else, the lady would b sitting 6ft under right now. Besides, you can’t leave it up to a dispatcher to make a decision—their job is to get emergency services to a victim as quickly as possible by dispatching the call. That is just the way I feel and we can agree to disagree, but I will fight like hell to ensure these types of calls continue to be responded to because fire is typically on scene first by a few minutes.

      As for EMS and ALSL being fully equipped, do they carry the jaws of life, ladders, crowbars or other tools to get people out of cars? No, they would have to arrive on scene and then call for an engine. What about if a person had to be moved because they are too heavy? They again would have to call an engine. Valuable minutes would be wasted!
      My feelings are far from hurt as I’ve been called and accused everything in the book—this stuff rubs right off me and I take nothing personal, its politics. I love it and I love a good discussion.

  3. Bob says:

    Ms. Carillo, thank you for chiming in. Also best of luck to you with your campaign this Fall.

    With formalities out of the way I’ll give you the down and dirty reply. You said your comments are not personal, nor will mine be. I also don’t sugar coat based on gender when it comes to politics. Hopefully you’ll understand.

    If you want to be a player in the political arena you’ll find you need thick skin, a bullet proof vest or preferably body armor and flame proof underwear doesn’t hurt for a kicker. All get used at various times during the course of a week when big issues are on the line.

    If fire is the issue you want to wade into, first understand what you’re dealing with. This is the East Contra Costa Fire Protection DISTRICT. Key word in all caps. It’s not the Brentwood fire department. If you start looking for solutions with your primary concern being your neighborhood, you’re toast before you start. Because your efforts and decisions will be drawn to that neighborhood priority and it paralyzes the big picture effort that should be the real focus.

    Do you know what a hypothetical Brentwood only fire department gets you over a regional fire department when it comes time for an actual structure fire?

    Slower response times and a department that on its own cannot fight that fire. If you’re a stand alone agency with your 2 stations, you probably aren’t going to have the advantage of the auto-aid system that we enjoy today. So when that hum dinger of a fire gets going, you’re instead using mutual aid. When you go for that ride along, ask the guys to explain the difference to you. Ask them to explain to you how many engines and personnel it takes to fight just a single alarm fire.

    Then if you really want an eye opener, reach out to Chief Henderson. Ask if he’ll share with you some incident reports from the last couple of months. Pick a couple of high profile ones like the Bethel Island fire that involved 3 homes. Find out where engines were at the time of the call. But based on the ones I’ve read of late the one you really should read is the Concord incident from about 6 weeks ago. The one where the kid when up on the sidewalk and took out a father and child. Get a copy of that one and read it real carefully. In fact, read it a few times. Note the number of resources that were used. Note the absolute war zone type situation that was. Note the grievance counselors that had to be brought in because first responders were exposed to carnage and body parts.

    After you get done reading that, I’d be most curious to get your thoughts on the viability of your 2 station stand alone fire department again. To see if that Brentwood is an island approach still sounds like it will work for you. Or if the reality that you can’t do it alone has started to sink in.

    What’s your goal with leaving engines in station on medicals, specifically? Have you mentally calculated the number of lost lives that will result with that short sightedness? Where you thinking it’s somehow a money saver? You could have learned much from being at the fire meeting on Monday and hearing the fire fighter relay the headlines of the incident at the city hall a few weeks back. A call that they thought was routine, but as it turned out if the FD had not responded it’s unlikely that individual would be alive today.

    You could probably pose that question to the guys on your ride along as well. Those are standup guys and I’m certain they won’t snicker over the naiveté’ of the idea. They’ll probably explain to you the necessity of an engine being on scene in a most professional and courteous way.

    When you’re done there, you could reach out to Leslie Mueller over at AMR. She’s the person in charge overseeing the County’s contract with them. Very sharp lady. She can explain to you the need for engines to support setup for her team for transport and patient movement. She can also explain why the QRVs are used in this district while neighboring districts have Paramedics on their engines. Transport(ambulance) is the same in both cases, so that’s a push.

    But getting ahead of ourselves here really. Your very first stop before you invest too much more time on this boondoggle is to reach out to Contra Costa LAFCO and Executive Director Lou Ann Texeira. Another very sharp lady. Very helpful. She’ll get you on the road to understanding that your idea of a Brentwood only department has about an ice cube’s chance in hell of happening. You can also reach out to Supervisor Piepho’s office to talk to Mary about the likelihood.

    Collectively all of those folks could probably save you a whole lot of time and a whole lot of risk that you’ll be getting constituents all riled up over a pipe dream.

    Your Brentwood representatives have “been there, done that” last year. But for whatever reason this week at your council meeting they got amnesia or somehow forgot the message that was delivered to them last year. In no uncertain terms the message from both of the County Supervisors who were in the chamber that day was a don’t bother with your “Plan B” of bailing on the district to form the Brentwood FD. It goes directly against LAFCO charter in that formation of any such district would have significant negative impact in the delivery of services to the surrounding area.

    No LAFCO approval = no Brentwood only FD.

    Don’t spend too much of your time looking east for a sunset on this one. I’m sure you have many other more likely success issues you can pursue in your campaign.

    I guess the fellas at the council meeting either forgot or were counting on the residents having forgotten these facts. It is after all an election year and the saber rattling and pandering gets dished up in pretty generous helpings.

    Finally, read the recently released Grand Jury report. The trend is toward consolidation. You’re going the wrong way with this idea.

  4. Dear Bob,

    My name is Mrs. Carissa Pillow. Not Ms. Carillo. Thank you for your well wishes. I don’t see expressing my concern for my community as “saber rattling and pandering”. And, I have very thick skin that I’m sure will take care of me just fine. Again, thank you for your concern.

    I want to address each of your comments one by one, to make sure I don’t skip a beat. Most of your response took the tone of hopelessness, so I hope to diffuse some of that for you.

    1) I am very good at seeing a big picture, seeing a network and understanding how having good neighbor skills effects your ability to work together. I understand that Brentwood is part of the ECC Fire District. I appreciate you capitalizing that word for me. That clarified the word “district”.

    Based on the archives of the Brentwood Press, I can see that the problems with the ECC Fire district have been going on for a very long time. It seems that as far back as the archives go, the budget has never quite balanced. It also seems that the union has always pressed for more, more, and more and the taxpayers have consistently pushed back. It nearly seems to me, that the ECC Fire District is deliberately burying itself. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why. But, I’m a good detective. I’m pretty sure I’m about to figure that out.

    2) I was educated on mutual aid vs. auto aid yesterday. I will spend more time learning about it.

    3) I am a Critical Care nurse, Bob. I, of course, do not want to see the loss of human life. I love and care for people, Bob. Patient care and community service is my career choice. I can’t imagine thinking in terms that don’t put peoples’ lives first. Nevertheless, I am much more interested in seeing my local fire district run to a structure fire while AMR intervenes on the patient with esophageal reflux. I should tell you, Bob, I’ve been a home health nurse as well. So, I know that the firemen were first on scene, to every single call I ever placed. Within a minute or two of the fire responders, the EMS crew would come and take over. In every single case, the patient could have waited for EMS; and EMS was better equipped to handle patient care. So, I feel strongly that fire needs to be the fire service’s priority. I will need hard statistical data to convince me to change my perspective. In the medical field, we call that evidence based practice.

    Now, do you need to be present at every car accident? Yes. Every grass fire? Yes. Every structure fire. Absolutely. If I’m wrong here, and patient care calls are legislated as a mandatory run; I’m sure the Chief will clarify that when we meet.

    4) I appreciate that the firemen I spoke with yesterday were very informative and accommodating. They didn’t snicker at all, and I doubt very much that they found me to be naive. Most people take me rather seriously.

    5 & 6) Thank you for the suggestions. I’ll consider both of those suggestions carefully. I’ve never had any one tell me that my ideas have “an ice cube’s chance in Hell”. Most people are much more respectful than that.

    7) I am seeing that you have some resentment for Brentwood’s elected representatives. I want to tell you that Erick Stonebarger, Bob Brockman, and Vice Mayor Steve Barr represented Brentwood exactly the way I would have expected them to. I appreciate their thoughtful consideration, time and patience within the Fire Board. They have each dedicated a phenomenal amount of time on the Fire District, and our City needs them to be focusing on Brentwood. I would love to see the ECC Fire District Board become an elected board. Perhaps the district can put that on the next ballot? Is there enough money in the district to run another ballot measure? If not, perhaps you should express some gratitude for the free labor that you are recieving from the Directors on that Fire Board that you seem to detest.

    I doubt that any of the Brentwood Council members suffered amnesia during the council meeting. They report on fire each meeting. They each seem to have very good memory recall.

    8) I will spend more time learning about LAFCO.

    9) Hopelessness and fear has not gotten the ECCFD very far in the past. I would recommend you steer clear of those strategies in the future. While I appreciate the rhetoric in your writing, focusing on facts and statistics will get you much further with me.


    Carissa Pillow, RN CCRN
    Candidate for Brentwood City Council

  5. Bob says:

    Well don’t I look like an idiot getting your name wrong. My apologies, Ms. Pillow.

    I’d love to go through this point by point with you, because there are some softballs in there. But it appears you have decided I don’t have a clue. That is in comparison to that research you’ve done on the Press site to learn the history. Plus I’m short on time this morning. But maybe two quick questions for now, if can indulge me:

    1) Where on the Press site was it said the fire fighters have asked for more and more and more over the years? Which article and which reporter wrote that?

    2) Roughly how many meetings specific to the fire district have you attended or how many of the Directors have you reached out to besides your reps from Brentwood to further your understanding of the issue?

    I’ll leave you with this: Sorry also if the ice cube reference offended. It was a deliberate choice of words, not to anger you, but to check that skin thickness comment. So I’ll try to be more careful of word choice going forward.

    In clearer terms once again: No LAFCO approval = No Brentwood only FD.

    Period. Amen. Please pick up your parting gifts on the way out of the Board of Supervisors chambers after being told that for the third time now. Once by the BoS(maybe twice, I’d have to go back and look) and twice by LAFCO.

    When you get around to doing your research about LAFCO, you’re going to find out that in some respects that agency has more power than the Board of Supervisors. Because the Board of Supervisors do not have the legal authority to authorize your fire district idea without first going through the LAFCO process and gaining their approval.

    Your friend Mr. Barr can confirm this if you’re still thinking I’m wrong.


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