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Board Delays Decision On Fire Station Closures

A final vote is expected next week on whether or not to close stations in Walnut Creek, Clayton, Martinez and Lafayette.

Delaying for a week what is almost certainly a vote to close four fire stations in central Contra Costa County, the Board of Supervisors, acting as the Board of Directors for the Contra Costa County Fire District, took several hours of public testimony and asked Fire Chief Daryl Louder for more information. 

Louder, citing the failure of voters in November to pass Measure Q, which would have imposed a $75 percent tax on homes, said that declining property tax revenue and increasing costs of health care and pensions have left with fire district with no option but to close, at least temporarily, four fire stations. 

They are:

  • Station 4 at 700 Hawthorne Dr. in Walnut Creek
  • Station 11 at 6500 Center Ave. in Clayton
  • Station 12 at 1240 Shell Ave. in Martinez
  • Station 16 at 4007 Los Arabis Ave. in Lafayette

Louder told the board that the response times are already above that of national standards, and the closure of four additional stations will only make the situation worse. He is proposing the increased use of reserve firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to help offset the reduction in firefighting staff. 

Closing the four stations will save a total of $10 million, Louder said.

Elected officials and members of the public from each affected city rose to express concern about the closures, and asked to look for options that would preclude closing stations. 

"The public has spoken, and the fire district has to live within its means," said board chairwoman Mary Piepho, who noted that a fire station closed in her East County neighhorhood last year, a victim of similar budget woes. 

Patch will continue to follow this story as it unfolds. Stay tuned. 

Cheryll December 07, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Re: quick fixes. Exactly. And not opt for the "temporary fixes" (per Mary Peipho comments) that become permanent. How many fire stations (anywhere) were EVER reopened? If you read October minutes of the CCCounty Fire Protection Advisory Fire Commission -Fire Chief's Report, they even have planned 6 more stations to close. And that advisory body as well as the LAFCO Commission, are dutifully pledged to address this issue and have not. Instead they simply "accepted" every Fire Chief report. I dont feel well represented and this does not evoke confidence in the process for me. The area that Station 12 supports has a "delegate" on the CCFire Advisory who only showed up for 4 out of 6 yearly meetings. Maybe we just need MORE representation, but you gotta call it SOMETHING..
Mark Jones December 12, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Mary Simpson from Alamo, you obviously are totally unaware that you have 4 retired fire captains in YOUR San Ramon Valley Fire District that are making $250, 000 per year EACH in their retirement sure to their generous pensions. Perhaps you should put your provincial Pom Poms down for a moment, before putting your foot in your mouth.
jessica freels December 12, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I dont wish to fight with anyone. But anyone who thinks this is right wing anti tax people is wrong. This was lack of proper advertising. I voted for this because I knew about it, (I live near Hawthorne) but I saw no signs, no advertising on fences, nothing. It wasn't made a priority. prop 30 sure was though. It was not made the kind of IN YOUR FACE priority. people might get annoyed...but they would know. As for first responders, I agree what people do is their first response. But being able to slap a siren on the car and speed down San Miguel, I don't get to do.
michael Davey December 12, 2012 at 06:05 PM
How can anyone want a closure to the fire stations. I may only be eighteen but I have my EMT and I'm in course to be apart of a fire academy next semester and to me this is heart breaking cause I grew up watching station 12 hoping one day i'd work there, I have volunteered down there before and all those guys are great. I understand why some didn't vote cause I get it property tax is getting crazy and most people aren't getting any richer but yet in previous years we have voted for parks and pools to be redone, I'm just saying when your response time could have been two to seven minutes and now is ten to fourteen and the person you loved is dying who is it to really blame remember how much your emergency services does for you
Steve Cohn December 12, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Michael - no one (well, almost no one) wants to close fire stations, have longer response times, or fewer emergency responders. But as I was quoted back in July of 2009 in a Wall Street Journal article about Pete Nowicki's $240,000 per year pension, "these guys may have priced themselves out of a job." (http://www.fairfororinda.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/090720-wallstreetjournal.pdf) And so it has come to pass. ConFire is closing 14% of its stations so it can reduce staff by 14% with more cuts coming. Nowicki's and some other retirements in excess of $200,000 are the exceptions, not the rule, but even the average cost per firefighter is staggering. The Orinda Task Force report shows the average MOFD firefighter costing $235,000 with that cost increasing to over $300,000 if amounts are allocated for currently underfunded retirement liabilities. (http://g.virbcdn.com/_f/files/c2/FileItem-265318-Table_IV3_employee_cost.pdf) This cannot be maintained. Orinda and Moraga already spend over half of their local taxes on MOFD (MOFD's budget exceeds the combined budgets of Orinda plus Moraga). Everyone appreciates your commitment to emergency services but you, and others in your profession, have to start expecting, possibly demanding, reasonable compensation so you can provide the service you want to give.

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