Press Release – East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Fire Suppression Assessment

eccfpdLOGOFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Monday, March 2, 2015

CONTACT: Hugh Henderson, Fire Chief
East Contra Costa Fire Protection District 
(925) 240-2131

East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Board Votes to Seek Property Owner Authorization of Fire Suppression Assessment

OAKLEY—The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted Monday to seek property owner authorization of a Fire Suppression Assessment that will provide locally controlled funding to prevent further service reductions, permanent station closures and firefighter lay-offs.

“Last year’s was among the hottest, driest and worst fire seasons on record, and the December rains could result in a heavier grass crop in 2015 that may lead to more grass fires in the spring and summer of 2015,” said Fire Chief Hugh Henderson. “Even with a dangerous fire season looming, local revenue for fire and emergency response services is far below pre-recession levels. New delays in response to 9-1-1 emergencies and closed fire stations would compromise public safety.”

Because brush and house fires can double in size every 30 seconds, if potential new service reductions are enacted, firefighters may need to shift their emphasis from saving a home on fire to protecting neighboring houses from a spreading fire. The District’s ability to respond to multiple emergencies at the same time would be especially hampered.

Ballots will be mailed no later than Friday, March 13, arriving the following week in a light green envelope. They are due back by Monday, April 27, when a public hearing will be held and ballots will be tallied to determine the Board’s authority to enact a fire protection and response assessment that will provide stable, locally controlled revenue that cannot be taken away by the state or other agencies.

Assessment ballots issued last summer were not counted as that balloting process was cancelled due to incomplete data, and no assessment was enacted. The new ballot process replaces the process initiated last summer and reflects updated fire protection data for many parcels in the East County area. The updated data reduces the proposed assessments for most East County properties when compared to the assessment considered last summer. Property owners wishing to participate in the balloting process must fill out and return their new ballots this spring, even if they already cast a ballot last summer.

“To ensure complete accuracy in developing the new assessment, the District recently updated a variety of its data sources, including those providing information on fire hydrant locations in newly developed areas,” Henderson said. “This data is important for a potential assessment because proximity to fire hydrants is one of many criteria used by engineers to determine the special benefit created for a specific property as a result of improved fire service, which determines the appropriate level of the assessment for each property.”

If the benefit assessment is authorized by a majority of property owners and enacted by the District’s Board of Directors, the assessment will fund the cost of keeping five stations open for five years, rather than the three stations that can be funded by current and projected District revenues. This would allow Station 54 in Brentwood to reopen. The station was closed temporarily September 1, 2014.

District revenues, which are heavily dependent on property taxes, decreased 40 percent due to the recession and housing crisis. Significant budget cuts, including salary freezes and increased payroll contributions for pensions, were made.

If the fire suppression assessment is rejected by property owners or the Board of Directors, the District will likely make the Brentwood station closure permanent and be required to close an additional station. Operational changes to call responses and protocols will need to be implemented if the District returns to the three-station model.

ABOUT THE EAST CONTRA COSTA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT: The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District spans 249 square miles and our firefighter/EMTs serve more than 100,000 residents in the Cities of Brentwood and Oakley, the Town of Discovery Bay, the communities of Byron, Bethel Island and Knightsen, the Marsh Creek/Morgan Territory area, and all other areas within unincorporated Contra Costa County to the east of Antioch and to the southeast of Clayton.

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Fire Study Does Not Offer Proper Context

Contra Costa Times “Letter to the Editor” from Vince Wells, September 21st, 2013:

Fire Study Does Not Offer Proper Context

There is a perception by some that the Contra Costa Fire District is operating under an outdated service model. The Con Fire board of directors and even the consultant they hired acknowledge that our fire calls have not changed much over the years.

Yes, we are responding to more medical emergencies than we are fires. But our core mission is unchanged and the number of fire responses each year is not declining.

This is why firefighters have many concerns about the operational plan and potential deployment strategies to be proposed in the upcoming Fitch Associates study. A preliminary plan was unveiled last month.

Fitch is using incomplete data to support a faulty premise: that emergency calls follow a predictable pattern and the impact to services can be minimized by capturing inefficiencies in the system.

The “location” and “time of day” graphics mapping our calls in the Fitch presentations are incomplete. Obviously, every call is not the same. The study does not reflect the complexity of the calls, including how many were dispatched, the duration of the call, how many people needed aid, how many concurrent calls came in and which calls were for automatic aid.

For instance, the recent Morgan Fire on Mount Diablo, which included more than 1,000 firefighters from multiple jurisdictions and took six days to contain, would show up as one dot on the map at 1:50 p.m. on a Sunday. Data is useless if it does not offer context.

National standards recommend that 15 firefighters and one supervisor be able to arrive on scene within eight minutes to a standard residential fire. With our current staffing, this requires five fire stations to be emptied because we have three firefighters assigned to each station. This is known as a first alarm. Each additional alarm requires the same resources. A two-alarm structure fire in the middle of the night will have a significant impact on the number of resources that would be available for any additional emergencies.

Additional closed stations, as proposed in the Fitch presentations, have the potential to increase response times, and the increased risks are measurable. The projected two-minute delayed response time after closing more fire stations seems reasonable. However, the measurement for delay in response time is flawed. This two-minute delay assumes all of our engines/trucks are sitting somewhere strategic at the same time. That is unlikely. When an engine/truck responds to an incident, it leaves significant geographical gaps in coverage and results in a longer than two-minute delay in response time.

A final study should also look at “norms” around the Bay Area and around the country. The study should compare our personnel, resources, costs and performance against other fire departments and districts that serve a large suburban area that has similar dynamics, including an unpredictable wildfire season and large open space and major oil refineries and other industrial businesses.

The study should also include a baseline demand requirement that specifies the necessary personnel and resources needed for a fire district of this size and complexity. And, it should document the benefits and risks associated with the adoption of any new model for deployment.

Firefighters continue to work with the board to address declining revenue and the need to ensure the public’s safety, including a pilot study at Fire Station 1 in Walnut Creek to run a medical squad for lower priority medical calls, which will help keep fire engines available for higher priority calls

However, a fire district of this size and complexity should not be a test lab for unproven and potentially dangerous deployment strategies proposed by Fitch. The public deserves to know the truth about what these proposed models really mean to their fire service.

— Vince Wells is president of the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, Local 1230

PRESS RELEASE – Signs Placed Near Fire Stations For Public Awareness About Station Closures

United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Vince Wells
Tel: 925-768-5374
Email: vwells@iafflocal1230.org

SIGNS PLACED NEAR LOCAL FIRE STATIONS TO BRING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF POTENTIAL FOR ADDITIONAL FIRE STATION CLOSURES IN JANUARY 2014

firestationclosuresign
Martinez, CA – The prior closures this past year of 5 fire stations and 7 engine companies has placed the Contra Costa County Fire District and the communities protected by it, at great risks. Response times have increased significantly, and the ability to mitigate major or multiple incidents has been significantly impaired. We have seen this occur numerous times since fire station closures began in January and we cannot allow any further fire stations to be closed.

The Fire District has stated that to the Board of Supervisors that a 6th fire station and 8th engine company may be closed in January 2014 but that location has yet to be identified. Another one of your local fire stations may be closed and it may be in your neighborhood this time. Response times will continue to increase, calls may be delayed until a fire engine becomes available, and more fire loss and property damage will occur if less resources are available in a timely manner to mitigate a fire.

Signs like these have been placed at local fire stations in an effort to bring awareness to the community that further cuts may be made by the Board of Supervisors and that another fire station may be closed in less than 4 months.

If you are concerned about your local fire department please contact one of your local Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and express your concerns. In Contra Costa County, the Board of Supervisors act as the governing Fire Board to the Fire District and ultimately make the final decision on any recommendations from the Fire Chief.

You may contact any County Supervisor at one of the following numbers or email addresses:

District 1 / San Pablo, El Sobrante – John Gioia:
(510) 231-8686
jgioia@bos.cccounty.us

District 2 / Lafayette, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek – Candace Anderson:
(925) 646-6067
candace.andersen@bos.cccounty.us

District 3 – Mary Piepho:
(925) 252-4500
Dist3@BOS.CCCounty.us

District 4 / Clayton, Concord, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill – Karen Mitchoff:
(925) 521-7100
SupervisorMitchoff@bos.cccounty.us

District 5 / Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Bay Point, Pacheco, Clyde – Federal Glover:

(925) 427-8138

district5@bos.cccounty.us

United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County
IAFF Local 1230
112 Blue Ridge Dr.
Martinez, CA 94553
925-932-1230

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PRESS RELEASE – CCCFPD EMS Squad Pilot Program Agreement By Firefighters

United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Vince Wells
Tel: 925-768-5374
Email: vwells@iafflocal1230.org

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT FIREFIGHTERS OVERWHELMINGLY AGREE TO A SQUAD PILOT PROGRAM, AN ALTERNATIVE SERVICE MODEL FOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE.

Martinez, CA – Starting Friday, September 6th at 0800, Firefighters from the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County overwhelmingly agreed to support piloting a Medical Squad program which will begin running lower priority medical calls. The Squad can run lower priority medical calls which will help in keeping staffed fire engines available for higher priority calls such as rescues and fires.

One Squad will be strategically place at the centrally located Fire Station 1 at 1330 Civic Dr. in Walnut Creek. It will be dispatched to low priority EMS calls and will be capable of providing advanced life support (ALS) because it will be staffed with at least one Firefighter Paramedic. It will also respond with the closest Fire Engine to assist in fire and rescue operations when appropriate.

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District has seen unprecedented reductions in service the last two years going from 30 engine companies to 23 with a total of 5 stations closures. Firefighters from IAFF Local 1230 agree that holes in the system created by station closures must be filled and have worked collaboratively with the Fire District to develop a light weight vehicle staffed with two firefighters to help keep the District’s depleted firefighting force available for fires and other emergencies.

Fire Station 1 was chosen for the pilot program because it is centrally located and can respond quickly into vacant Fire Station 4’s area (700 Hawthorne Dr, Walnut Creek) and can also respond quickly into vacant Fire Station 16’s area (4007 Los Arabis Dr. Lafayette). An additional Firefighter will be added to Fire Station 6 (2210 Willow Pass Rd. Concord), which previously had 2 companies (one company at Station 6 was de-staffed last year). The addition of a Firefighter at Station 6 will help with the heavy workload placed on that crew since the second crew was removed. Station 6 is the busiest fire station in the District.

IAFF Local1230 President Vince Wells states, “Our Firefighters agree that due to the reduction in our daily firefighting force, the two person medical squad will help keep our fire engine companies available for fires and other hazards while maintaining a firefighter first response to medical calls. The use of firefighters to staff the squad will also put two additional firefighters on the streets to assist in fire and other emergencies when staffing is needed.”

United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County
IAFF Local 1230
112 Blue Ridge Dr.
Martinez, CA 94553
925-932-1230

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Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Contact Information

ccc_boardsupes_pic_2013

All concerns regarding any fire station closure or fire service reductions & cut-backs for Contra Costa County Fire should be directed to your local board of supervisors. Their contact information can be found through the link at the bottom.

We also send out updates and information on our Twitter account @CCCFirefighters, our homepage, and our Facebook page.

Thank you for all of your continued interest and concerns for your local fire department!

Board of Supervisors Contact Info

Contra Costa County Fire Station Closures & Engine Shut Downs

5 Contra Costa County FPD Fire Stations Closed

7 Fire Engine Crews Shut Down

List of Closed Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Stations:

Station 4 in Walnut Creek: 700 Hawthorne Drive, Walnut Creek, 94596

Station 11 in Clayton: 6500 Center Street, Clayton, 94517

Station 12 in Martinez: 1240 Shell Avenue, Martinez, 94553

Station 16 in Lafayette: 4007 Los Arabis Drive, Lafayette, 94549

Station 87 in Pittsburg: 800 W. Leland Road, Pittsburg, 94565

Additional Fire Engine Crews Shut Down:

Station 1 in Walnut Creek: 1330 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, 94596

Station 6 in Concord: 2210 Willow Pass Road, Concord, 94520

Is Yours Next?

Please contact your represented board of supervisors for your home town. Their contact information can be found through the following link: http://bit.ly/17W6lix

closed_sta_11_medHIGHres

United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County Press Release – July 2 2013

United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County Press Release

July 2, 2013

For Immediate Release

SIGNIFICANT INCIDENTS & IMPACT OF FIRE STATION CLOSURES IN CONTRA COSTA COUNTY – JULY 2013

Just three days before July 4, 2013, the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and the East Contra Costa Fire District were proven to be unable to provide enough resources to respond to the major incidents that are part of the normal operations during this time of the year. Let alone the day to day calls; according to the Firefighters Local 1230 President, Vince Wells. “Both systems were tested today, and both were dangerously overwhelmed, leaving areas without coverage for long periods of time. We had 7 alarms working simultaneously. There were multiple incidents being worked at the same time, which should be anticipated during this time of the year; especially with the high heat and dry conditions. Both jurisdictions were dependent on resources from surrounding agencies. Despite the assistance, many areas continued to lack adequate coverage for any other significant event. Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is normally the agency that provides assistance to other smaller agencies in the county; now we have become the agency in need. It is quite embarrassing based on our size,” says President Wells.

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, who is responsible for fire and emergency services for 9 cities, including; Antioch, Pittsburg, Martinez, San Pablo, Pleasant Hill, Concord, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Clayton, and the unincorporated areas of the county, including; El Sobrante, Clyde, Pacheco, North Richmond, Tara Hills, Bay View, and Bay Point, has de-staffed 6 of its 30 Engine Companies, with a seventh closure scheduled in Pittsburg effective July 8, 2013. This is due to the loss of property taxes collected which provides for 90% of the District’s revenue.

We hope that with the increases in assessed value of property reported by the County Assessor this week, that the Board of Supervisors will reconsider the closure scheduled for July 8, 2013 and January 1, 2013. The events of today was just a small example of the impacts that the cuts already made have had on our ability to provide fire protection to the communities within the District.

We are hopeful that we can begin to move forward with re-opening our closed fire stations and bringing our staffing levels back up to what is necessary for a county the size of Contra Costa. The number of firefighters on the streets today, compared to the amount of hazards and population; puts us way below the industry standard.

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If you’d like more information or to schedule an interview please contact
Vince Wells, President at 925.932.1230 or vwells@iafflocal1230.org