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Board Votes To Close Fire Station In Lafayette

Unanimous vote includes three other stations in Clayton, Martinez and Walnut Creek.

After nearly six hours of testimony Tuesday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, acting as the Board of Directors of the Contra Costa Fire Protection District, unanimously agreed to shutter four stations, including one in Lafayette.

The closures, scheduled for next month, will save $3 million. The district is facing a $17 million deficit, and has spent its reserves. 

The supervisors' vote comes after voters in November failed to pass Measure Q, a $75-a-year parcel tax that would have prevented the closure of the stations.

Supervisors heard again from Fire Chief Daryl Louder, who presented further information Tuesday after supervisors delayed a vote on the closure last week. They also heard from residents who urged them to keep the stations open in their towns. 

"I'm concerned about emergency medical response issues," said Leonard Carp of Walnut Creek, who lives near Station 4. "A lot of people in our area are retired or older."

He joined several other residents in supporting the idea of saving money by reducing the staff of each station to two firefighters instead of the current three.

That was a plan endorsed by several Lafayette residents, including Mayor Mike Anderson, who urged the board to use that city as a test to try the two-person-per-station model. Station 16 at 4007 Las Aribis Dr, the Lafayette station targeted for closure, has been shuttered since June. Anderson said that it could mean four staff in the other two stations, until Station 16 is reopened. 

Louder and other firefighters balked at the notion of two firefighters per station, saying that it would endanger the crews and reduce response time even more than the four station closure. 

Martinez resident Cheryll Grover said that station closures should be based on where the most votes against Measure Q came from. Closing Station 12 in Martinez, at 1240 Shell Ave., would endanger residents living near the Shell refinery, most of whom are in older homes that burn faster, she said. 

"We have to close stations," Supervisor Federal Glover said. "It's
not what we want to do, and certainly not what any of us signed up to
do ... but we have to live within our means and we have to do it in a way we
feel we're go to be able to give the best quality service possible."

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff noted that the Clayton station closure at 6500 Center Ave. would leave that city without a fire station. 

"There is no right solution," she said. "There are those who say we can't afford the current system. I say we can't afford not to have the current system." 

"Frankly, it's been hard to get folks and community members at the table and to participate in solutions," said Supervisor Mary Piepho. "Now everyone wants to solve the problem. It’s been here a lot longer than the last couple of weeks."

"I hope as we go forward that you will consider Lafayette's proposal for a two-person station," Supervisor Candace Anderson told Louder.

The fire chief reminded the board that, absent new sources of revenue, addtional fire stations will need to be closed in the next few years. 

Quick Facts December 14, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Contra Costa Fire does not exsist to run medical calls,public service incidents, water rescue, high angle rescue, vehicle accidents, the list goes on and on. Contra Costa Fire District is a FIRE DEPARTMENT. The sole responsibility of the fire department is to respond to FIRES. All of these other call types are value added services that the fire department provides free of charge to the public. The Staffing model is very lean for Contra Costa Fire District under current staffing models. I don't believe for one second that they should compromise their personal safety because some citizen thinks they are an "Expert" in Fire or Community Protection. Based on industry standards Lafayette should have 24 Firefighters on duty per day. With the new model having 6 on per day is already at 25% of what is recommended by ICMA. Con Fire has already suffered the very sad loss of two firefighters in the line of duty, and I am confident that the Fire Chief, Firefighters, and Board will not compromise Firefighter Safety to satisfy any political group and their aspirations. You can search across these great United States, and you will not find any expert that supports having 2 person Staffing on a fire engine. You are completely wrong and off base if you think that the Fire Department waits to rescue occupants inside a fire until a second team arrives. I personally know of several incidents where the first arriving crew rescued individuals from fire, before anyone else arrived.
lovelafayette December 14, 2012 at 02:15 PM
@quick. "The sole responsibility of the fire department is to respond to FIRES... are value added services that the fire department provides free of charge..." I can see you don't work in public relations. What an incendiary statement! FREE!?!? I personally think we receive sub-standard FIRE service from LFD. OK they do a good job of putting out fires, but it shouldn't end there! This summer there were multiple fires in Lafayette Community Park, NO fire investigation was done on any of them. LFD did not cooperate with LPD even though the identity of the Boy Scout leader who caused the BVE schoolyard fire with a rocket was known. No charges filed, responsible party did not pay for fire response and cleanup! Guess investigating fires is one of those FREE services we don't contract for? Sunnyside, Washington (16,100 pop) is one of many American who have turned ambulance services into a CITY owned utility. The ambulance is tied into the 911 service and sends the city owned and staffed ambulance on medical calls. public.www.codepublishing.com/wa/sunnyside/html/.../Sunnyside1332.html When I suggested this to council, they were unfamiliar with the concept but Commissioner Tatzin immediately rejected it as incompatible with 911. We need council to think outside the box, just a little. Lafayette needs a new commission, a public safety commission to find novel solutions to the integration of fire, police, ambulance, emergency response and public health.
c5 December 14, 2012 at 02:52 PM
that's an interesting thought, but more broadly of course what you are talking about makes sense. it is exactly what the private sector does to stay efficient in operations.
Quick Facts December 19, 2012 at 06:30 AM
I have a hard time believing your account of some suspicious fires near St. Mary's road in Lafayette. Contra Costa Fire District has one of the best, if not the best, Arson Investigation Teams in the Bay Area. The investigators follow up on all fires and respond and investigate suspicious fires immediately. If you have information on arson fires contra costa fire has an arson tip line at 866-50-arson. Investigation of fires is absolutely included in the services that Contra Costa Fire provides, along with response to: traffic accidents, rope/water/confined space rescue, vegitation fires, car fires, exterior fires, structure fires, flooding conditons, power lines down, gas leaks, hazardous material incidents, carbon monoxide alarms, children locked in cars, assistance to elderly handicapped vicitms that have fallen, Medical Emergencies, Cardiac Arrests, Anaphylaxis, Diabetic Coma, Chest Pain, Shortness of Breath, etc, etc, etc, all with Advanced Life Support (Paramedic) care, with NO BILL for services, IV's, medications, etc rendered. The private Ambulance Company, AMR will be happy to tranport you to the hospital and charge you and your insurance for the care and ride. The point that I was making is that everyone gets all tied up thinking that the PRIMARY role of the fire department is medical emergencies, and that is not the case. The reason the fire department exsists is to respond to, and supress fires and prevent loss of life or property. Medicals are value added
lovelafayette December 19, 2012 at 06:55 PM
@quick. "I have a hard time believing your account .." so now I am lying?! LFD service is sub-standard. I lived in Piedmont for years,I know what a fire department dedicated to the community they serve is like. LFD DOES NOT "investigate all suspicious fires." I could't even get a fire report of the July 14 fire from LFD, I had to drive to Pleasant Hill to pick it up myself. Based on that report I know that NO INVESTIGATION into "who dun it" took place, there was no arson investigation into links to other recent fires in the park. All fires summer 2012 were immediately attributed to kids partying. Con Fire statistics are antediluvian! Con Fire has NO statistics on LFD responses to the Lafayette Community Park, all are coded by the address that called in the fire. Arson is not the issue for the BVE fire. The Parks director and the school principal stated that a boy scout dad illegally brought an incendiary device (a rocket) into the Park. It did not deploy as expected and caused a 4 acre fire. LPD Chief Christensen told me that LFD would not cooperate so no charges were filed, no charge-back of firefighting and restoration costs was possible. LFD does not communicate with residents, they have NO webpage, no PSA, no programs. Look at the LPD webpage,Chief Christensen is a great communicator,sends weekly updates to residents. Your repeated assertion that "medicals are value added" reaffirms that I am safer with AMR whose entire mission is medical.

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