Contra Costa County Supervisors Approve Plan to Shutter Two Fire Stations

May 7, 2013 17:18 pm · 85 comments

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors today approved a plan to shutter two fire stations as the local fire district struggles to close a
massive budget gap.

The board voted to close Contra Costa Fire Protection District Station 87, located at 800 W. Leland Road in Pittsburg, in July, and another
unnamed station in January as part of the district’s ongoing service reduction and fire station closure plan.

Fire Chief Daryl Louder said the upcoming station closures should save the district about $3.3 million. The planned closures will follow the
shutdown of fire stations in Lafayette, Martinez and Walnut Creek and the drastic service reduction at Clayton’s lone fire station.

Like those stations, the Pittsburg outpost was selected for closure based on a mix of factors including the station’s typical call volume and the ability of neighboring stations to absorb those calls. Fire Chief Daryl Louder reviewed what led up to the closures.

He noted that the district gets most of its revenue from local property tax assessments, which were hit hard by the Great Recession, according to Louder.

In addition, the district’s required contributions to health care and pension plans have soared in recent years. Measure Q, a parcel tax measure meant to raise enough taxes to cover the budget gap, failed to receive the two-thirds majority vote needed to pass in November’s election.

That left the district with a $17 million budget deficit and few other options to fix its finances, the chief said.

Even before the two additional fire stations close this year, Louder and other fire officials said, the district’s fire crews are already stretched too thin.

“I have serious doubts about our ability to provide protection for our community and I have serious concerns about our personnel operating out
there,” the chief told the board this afternoon.

Many of the supervisors today acknowledged that the decision to shutter more fire stations is a necessary evil, but one that will take its toll on the community.

“The service level deficiencies…are seriously negatively affecting our communities and the safety of our personnel and it’s a really sad set of circumstances,” said Supervisor Mary Piepho, her voice breaking with emotion.

Vince Wells, President of the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, who was the sole public speaker at the meeting, said he
appreciated the board members’ level of interest in the fire district’s problems.

However, he also reminded them that more than 50 percent of voters did approve Measure Q last fall and urged the board to “work toward a plan to keep the fire stations open, aggressively,” adding, “This is a crisis.”

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{ 85 comments }

1 DMZ May 7, 2013 at 5:26 PM

To save money and their jobs.
Maybe cut back on some of the retirement, payroll benefits.
I know they have a tough job.
I get that, but at what cost to all of us.

2 Gym Rat May 7, 2013 at 5:37 PM

DMZ

Please!!! They have taken cuts. It costs to run a fire dept. Can you be more creative with your thinking. Unbelievable.

3 anon May 7, 2013 at 5:45 PM

@Gym Rat — I know some retired firemen that are making +80k a year. I’m not saying I’m for taking pensions away from people, but it does bleed the system dry.

4 Sups Lie May 7, 2013 at 5:47 PM

$121 million surplus that county administrator (who btw received the equivalent of a 30% increase a month or so ago) will not use to make employees whole from previous salary and benefit cuts that leave each worker going home with less money every year. My mom takes home $300 less a month than three years ago and she’s been an employee for 6 years. Measure Q should have passed but David Twa and the sups have put building upgrades like unnecessary paint and carpet than invest I. The employees, the community and its resources like the safety guys. Twa states that they are fully aware employees will make less in 3 years (net) than some started with but salary increases or share in benefit increases (employees absorb 100%) is unreasonable. My moms net income is less than I made as an admin asst when I was 19. She is an experienced level clerk with extensive technical background. Firefighters out if work while tge itger house gets OT. Shame on the county.

5 Anon May 7, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Maybe if the fire department focused on fires instead of following ambulances around for medical emergencies (which is most of what they do), they could get by with a much smaller budget AND provide good fire protection.

6 CLAYCORD.com May 7, 2013 at 5:55 PM

A lot of the time the fire department gets there before the ambulance. I know somebody who would have died if the firefighters didn’t arrive when they did. The ambulance wasn’t available and showed up about 10 minutes after fire. AMR does a great job, but it’s nice to have the firefighters working as paramedics, too. A lot of lives have been saved because of it.

7 anon May 7, 2013 at 5:58 PM

#2 – Sure, cut from all the non-safety services the government provides. After all, if safety is the #1 priority of government for citizens, I’m sure that there are many other things that can be eliminated or sold off to the private sector.

8 Dorothy May 7, 2013 at 6:10 PM

That particular station is fairly new, about 10 years or so. It was hard fought to get it in the first place. It is relatively close to new homes, old homes, and just up the street from a new Junior HS.

I would rather the firemen and police got fat pensions than the administrators. Administrators do not put their lives on the line to do their job.

9 Affected One May 7, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Great,another closure.I live a few blocks away from this one and always felt safer for it. With all the open fields and dry grassy hills around Baily road ,5-10 minute response times could make a big difference. Oh well.

10 Bob H. May 7, 2013 at 6:24 PM

A prerequisite of becoming a politician is to abandon your common sense. Once they get in the political ring, it is all about them. Forget what is best for the voters ( the people they are supposed to represent), it is all about them and their political careers. All I see is what they did for them, not much about what they did for us..

11 the other jj May 7, 2013 at 6:26 PM

how about that fireman that was ripping off the people that he was supposed to be working at and the firehouse items he stole plus getting paid while he was doing all this,,now he gets a pension more than i can ever dream about ,,try punishing him for his crooked deeds ,they could save a little money and save a lot of respect for themselves,it only takes one to make the house look bad!! sorry to say?

12 OH WELL. . . . May 7, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Hire some volunteer hose monkeys!!

13 YourFriendBen May 7, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Mayor,

There are certainly some times that time is of the essence in medical and traumatic emergencies but those are majority of those also rely on rapid transport to the hospital (which the fire department does not do) for definitive care to fix the underlying problem, things such as heart attacks, strokes, trauma.

In cases of cardiac arrest or anaphylactic shock either basic life support EMT’s or the new Advanced EMT roles can provide the lifesaving care which is actually shown to make a difference. Actually, in a cardiac arrest a lay person can do the only things proven to have a benefit, great compressions and early defibrillation if there is an AED available. In either event, both of these can be provided at a much lower cost by not having a duplication and overabundance of paramedics. Paramedics are being developed more and more to handle all the acute stuff that EMTs and Advanced EMTs can handle but then have the added scope to provide care in longer term comfort measures which the fire department paramedics don’t really utilize anyways.

There are avenues to reduce costs further if the department puts their minds to it.

Doc Ben

14 Cost Control May 7, 2013 at 6:42 PM

But has anything been done to curb incredible overtime costs? silence
In 2011 just seven employees accounted for 811,000 dollars in overtime, on top of their six figure base salaries.

15 anon May 7, 2013 at 6:51 PM

I can’t.for the fall out from this BUT people choose the career, they are not forced into it. They choose to risk their lives daily (thank you, I appreciate that fact) but when they’re retired they are no longer saving livesand if it’s true that they are getting fat retirement pay maybe that should be addressed….after we take it away from the pencil pushers of course!

16 jtkatec May 7, 2013 at 7:07 PM

@11, I had forgotten that news. Were there any updates to it? Such as what they found inside the homes and if he was charged?

17 commoncents May 7, 2013 at 7:09 PM

yeah jj just like you just made your house look bad lol – generalize much?

18 Cy Nical May 7, 2013 at 7:25 PM

Local police departments are losing dispatchers to the fire district because they pay up to $40,000.00 more per year for a dispatcher.

Salaries of all fire employees need to be looked at.

19 Julio-Antioch May 7, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Some of you really really need to educate yourselves before you take to writing this stuff. Absolutely unbelievable. You believe anything someone tells you or is written in the paper.

20 Dee May 7, 2013 at 7:41 PM

The news of this station closure does not make me happy at all. The guys in that place are rolling all the time. And I agree with what the Mayor stated above. Little over a month ago a neighbor was burned in a BBQ incident. They were here in like 3 minutes and got the situation pretty well handled as,well as getting the helicopter lined up to transport to a burn unit, AMR showed up about 10 min. later and mainly was used for transport to the helicopter. Why in the hell did they build a big new station like last year on Railroad and move the guys from the one on Loveridge to that? If they are looking to cut then they should of never spent that money. Not too comforting to know that we in this section of town are going to have to wait longer for services that were basically right around the corner.

21 Dub Creeker May 7, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Pay them $75K a year with benefits. You’ll get the same quality applicant (not a lot of jobs require only two or three days of work a week)

22 J. May 7, 2013 at 7:49 PM

@jtkatec
Jon Wilmot was charged and plead Not-Guilty.

23 Dub Creeker May 7, 2013 at 7:50 PM

@Julio-Antioch You’re right we shouldn’t believe everything we read in a database:

http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area

24 @cost control May 7, 2013 at 8:16 PM

You can save a lot of money by paying overtime for a shift instead of hiring a full time employee and paying all those benefits. So which is it, hate to see someone make a lot of money or cost control.

25 bay point May 7, 2013 at 8:29 PM

they are going to be very sorry they made this decision to close Lealand fire station. too many idiots blow off fireworks and toss out their cigs in that area. there are tons of grass fires every SINGLE year.

26 @24 May 7, 2013 at 8:37 PM

Lets say base pay of an individual for a year is $118,000, how can any manager justify paying that person another $161,000 in overtime pay during that same year?
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors have much to answer for in what appears to be a lack of oversight.

Use that URL in post 23, you will be stunned as to what public employees are getting paid.

27 anon May 7, 2013 at 8:42 PM

Why doesn’t the fire department drive electric cars to medical emergencies? Saves fuel, less pollution and can be kept charged at the stations.

28 YourFriendBen May 7, 2013 at 8:52 PM

What about the idea of part time firefighters? You could have them work a 24hr shift a week, take part in the trainings, etc. and it would be a great career opportunity for people who are looking to get into this career field (as full-time positions open up they could transition to those). You could still have stations filled but save on all the full-time employees costing the district so much money in overtime. I do not imagine they would have any shortage of qualified applicants for these positions.

If only their union would go for this…

29 Pucky May 7, 2013 at 9:18 PM

“Cost Control May 7, 2013 at 6:42 PM
But has anything been done to curb incredible overtime costs? silence
In 2011 just seven employees accounted for 811,000 dollars in overtime, on top of their six figure base salaries.”
BINGO COST CONTROL III

“@cost control May 7, 2013 at 8:16 PM
You can save a lot of money by paying overtime for a shift instead of hiring a full time employee and paying all those benefits. So which is it, hate to see someone make a lot of money or cost control.”

Are you from another planet? Do you not read the News Papers? Todays Editorial? Holy cow….and this

“DMZ May 7, 2013 at 5:26 PM
To save money and their jobs.
Maybe cut back on some of the retirement, payroll benefits.
I know they have a tough job.
I get that, but at what cost to all of us.”
BINGO!! Their pay and benies are way out of reality; It can not be continued as is. PERIOD….Let the wailing begin…..

30 Gym Rat May 7, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Anon

You really don’t get it. I hope they choose to close you local fire station. You have an opinion but you clearly don’t what your are talking about. I wonder who you are? You hide behind Claycord. Unbelievable!!

31 just me May 7, 2013 at 9:48 PM

I don’t know all the inner workings of the depts. but from an outsider I think maybe it’s time we look at the entire ConFire model concept. Maybe it’s time has come and gone and the dept should be split up again. Seems to me certain areas are paying for coverage they no longer have. Maybe a few of the cities should look at their own depts. with mutual aid when needed from other depts. My question being…….how can depts. like Orinda /Moraga seem to still function without cutbacks, SRV, Richmond Fire all seem to be doing OK, looks like there are some bad contracts that were signed (previous FFs taking advantage of the situation). Disband the district and start over…

If I were Lafayette I would look at working out a program to move over to Orinda/Moraga, Clayton could team up with the Morgan Territory homeowners that were almost “screwed” over by East CoCo and either form a new dist. serviced by CalFire (since Clayton owns station 11) or possibly joining with SRV that already services parts of Morgan Territory. I know there is a lot more to this than just moving districts but maybe the LAFCOs should be considered and a change made. Why should one area lose some service to support another area. Talk to any FF and they will tell you that East County is much busier because of the shootings, stabbings, and fires there. But why should Central CoCo residents have to support their service? Bring back the Mt. Diablo Fire Dept!!!

As the Mayor said some people think that Fire Depts shouldn’t offer medical service but by sheer #s they are often the first on scene at an emergency. If you were in Clayton the fire truck from either station 22 or 8 would still quite possibly beat the AMR ambulance as it may be assigned from some place like Martinez, Pittsburg, or Kaiser WC.

The only other “option” I could see is taking over the ambulance service from AMR and having it be a dept function with 2 FF/paramedics. From my understanding this is what SRV, Orinda/Moraga, SFFD, Sac Metro Fire, and many of the Tahoe area FDs do currently. Make the $$ from the transports and also have more FFs for larger events like fires, accidents etc.

32 MS.P. May 7, 2013 at 10:33 PM

If we were to eliminate the paramedic services from the fire department-there would be more of an uproar than there is now with the proposal to eliminate another fire station. When someone calls the emergency line, they will expect those services to be available.

33 Elwood May 7, 2013 at 10:53 PM

If this reductio ad absurdum continues to its logical conclusion we will have one fire station staffed by eight firefighters each making $1 million annually in wages and benefits.

34 Slugga May 7, 2013 at 11:13 PM

Firefighters should be contributing some of their salaries to their pension plans. However, $75 vs. a slower 911 response time should not have been a tough choice at the ballot.

35 gjets May 8, 2013 at 12:06 AM

Close them and hire some volunteers, CCC one a few fire depts that do not have them. As like most depts in CCC. the leaders of the depts can hardly waddle out of their buildings to go home after doing nothing at work all day except sit their gigantic behind in a chair thinking they are important with an old mans tie on and polyester pants. Try doing a pull up and put the muffin down.

36 Big Dog May 8, 2013 at 12:08 AM

@ Slugga – How much more do you want them to contribute? They TAKE 28% of that salary for Pension, plus another 5% for Health Benefits, plus they just took a 10% pay reduction last year. How much more do you want firefighters to give?
@Doc Ben – the cost of the Fire Paramedic is covered by Measure H, and is such a small part of the budget, it is a non factor. I do not believe for one minute that you are a physician (or at least an educated one). If you understood the system, you would understand that 90% of the time the FD Paramedic has obtained a chief complaint, history, and vital signs before AMR has arrived. Early recognition, treatment, and (yes) transport of ST Elevation MI patients, stroke patients, and trauma patients do save lives. There are many cases in which Fire Paramedics have cleared obstructed airways, had cardiac arrests with return of circulation prior to Ambulance arrival, had trauma patients packaged and ready for transport prior to ambulance arrival.
What Con Fire is doing is now is a miracle, providing Fire, Rescue, EMS, Hazmat, Public Service, etc, etc, etc, coverage with 6 less Fire Engines per day than a year ago. There will be loss of life, property, and further threat to the public because of the lack of staffing and resources that Con Fire is currently providing.

37 funny guy May 8, 2013 at 2:38 AM

elwood, the logical conclusion will be zero firefighters and zero stations open and all the taxes go to pay for pension and benefit costs
can ppl not planly see the system is horribly broked and we are circled the drain faster and faster

38 Safety Second May 8, 2013 at 4:33 AM

“Volunteer fire departments.” It has worked for centuries throughout America and can work in CoCo County. Also, eliminate 24 hour shifts – Instead of paying firemen to sleep on the job, close 50% of all stations at night and make the other 50% be up and ready on 8 or 10 hour shifts (just like cops)

39 Smokey May 8, 2013 at 8:17 AM

You ask how Orinda/Moraga, SRV function? We pay considerably more than you to keep our stations. Look at your property tax bill, I think you are around 60 to 70$ a month, I am close to 150$. We also have a fire board. Richmond is run by the city, they dont have to give money back to the county for other departments. How is the Sheriff Deputies getting a pay raise? They also are hiring people. I have seen this before in a city I used to live in. They hired a fire chief to make all these cuts, when he did the city manager blamed him and they filed for BK so they could restructure how they worked because the manager agreed to a 5 year contract he couldn’t do. This backfired because as soon as he did that 32 fire fighters retired, 11 more went to other departments. They tried to hire people but only 350 took the test, 180 failed the physical test, 60 didn’t pass the medical exam or background. They only hired 6 out of that mess, the manager was relieved of his authority. What I’m saying is; your fire fighters pay 27% of their monthly income to their retirement, they make an OK salary, remember they are there for 48 hours so it looks bloated and I know they get payed for sleeping but they need to be there. I spent many of my earlier years as a politician, you watch, Twa and the supervisors have something up their sleeve. The supervisors should not be allowed to take excess monies made by the retirement system and dump it into the general fund, should go back to the fire department. Get ready for a BK! Also look at the property tax, it is where it was in 2006 before the recession. Houses are selling, real estate is good but they just want to blame the retirement system. A system that had over a 12% return on their money, I wish they could invest for me.

40 Big Dog May 8, 2013 at 8:25 AM

@Safety Second – You chose a very appropriate screen name for yourself, based on your uneducated comments. Volunteers do work in smaller rural communities, which the cities Contra Costa County Fire serves are not. Please find me a volunteer to run the 84,000 plus calls for service that Con Fire Responded to last year. 24 hour shifts are actually much cheaper option and provide around the clock coverage. Most dangerous fires occur in the middle of the night, when people are sleeping and activity is light, and often go undetected until the fire grows. Having firemen work 8 hour shifts would require 3 times the number of firefighters, and cost millions more. The County of Contra Costa is in the black, and has excess money in their budget. They just refuse to fund fire protection. The real truth is between the board diverting money to make pension payments for many years, and the redevelopment agencies stealing 10′s of millions of dollars from the fire department, they are now in a financial pickle. Con Fire is one of the leanest departments in California for both coverage and staffing, based on population served. In the past 2 years the department has lost 6 fire engines (Concord, Clayton, Walnut Creek x2, Lafayette, Martinez, and now Pittsburg and possibly another. This situation is totally unacceptable!

41 Boneguy1 May 8, 2013 at 8:30 AM

The problem is really very simple. We send our taxes to the State and County to be spent by Supervisors who all have their pet programs and priorities, they pay themselves and staff generous Lifetime Pensions and Benefits then they allow municipal Unions (whether it be the Firefighters Union in this case), the SEIU or other muni-unions as well as Calpers to “negotiate” generate lavish Contracts that are unsustainable in exchange for votes and endorsements which then keeps the same folks in power whose only real accomplishments are to figure out ways to get re-elected, reshuffled to other elected positions or appointed to “Commissions” once they are termed out.

If Life Safety is supposed to be a priority then instead of wringing their collective hands and complaining we didn’t pass another tax increase (because in fact we pay enough already) then they should take some of the money they use for paying off their special interests and feel good causes (see Supervisor Bonillia’s or State Senator DeSaulnier’s recent posts in Claycord for examples) or the stupid boondoggles (high speed rail comes to mind) and actually declare that Life Safety is a priority and we will stop wasting funds, paying ourselves the fat cat LIFETIME benefits we have voted for ourselves and begin actually provide services we have promised that protect the citizens they are supposed to serve.

Wait we are dreaming that will never happen.

Reality is they get their Lifetime Pensions and benefits, we get cuts in services and our children and grandchildren are on the hook for the future unfunded bills and broken promises.

42 The Mamba May 8, 2013 at 8:32 AM

If the district is paid based on the property taxes, they should be almost back to where they were and the Fire District or supervisors should plan better for hard times. I know that’s a foreign concept in government though.

43 @The mamba May 8, 2013 at 9:15 AM

And when property values/taxes were rising at an astronomical rate you would have complained they were getting paid too much. It’d be nice if you took some basic finance courses at a JC before thinking.

44 just me May 8, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Sadly, this is a no win situation. Looking back on the $75 more people may have voted yes if they had a better understanding of how the Fire/EMS system works. How many people understand how an engine/truck is dispatched for an medical emergency? How many understand how many engines/trucks are sent for a confirmed fire? What engine/agency covers “their” station when there is a large fire in the area that has the crew out for an extended period of time? A confirmed accident with someone trapped? A brush/grass fire? I think most people look at “their local” firehouse and think it just serves their area. Not understanding if a fire call comes into dispatch it’s not just one engine but 4 engines, a truck, and a BC to start (I think that’s the #s from my research). You can get upset and mad all you want saying “That’s too many people and a waste of money to send that much on a first call.” But many of those numbers/mandates are set by OSHA and other agencies that over-see fire depts.

There have already been a few times where the lack of coverage started to come into view quickly. But, with the fire season we could be facing this summer things could get really crazy quickly. To have to rely more and more on mutual aid for CalFire, SRV, East CoCo, and Moraga/Orinda fire could be a dangerous situation and cost lives and property this summer if the fire season is as bad as we have been told so far. Already this spring CalFire has sent the engines/crew(s) from Sunshine probably 10 x’s. This means that station (Sunshine/16) has no coverage for a few hrs to a day until another agency can fill it in. (usually East Bay Reg. Parks, Spring Vally VFD (SJ area), or another Cal Fire unit)

45 The Family Dog May 8, 2013 at 9:20 AM

This is the only country in the world where we send a 60 foot hook and ladder truck to deal with an old lady who slipped and fell in the produce aisle at Safeway.

Firetrucks should NOT NOT NOT be sent to deal with medical calls. All public dollars are fungible and it is up to us to spend them wisely. If we are sending these huge trucks to deal with bumps on the head its not a wise use of our tax dollars. And the argument that they sometimes get there before the AMTs is specious. If getting there first is the only concern we should give the fire departments helicopters and jet packs too.

We all know the fire unions want to cover medical calls because its important that the public see them driving around a lot lights flashing and sirens wailing. Helps with the “hero” meme come contract negotiation time and when its time for the pension and benefits trough to be filled with tax dollars.

Fire Deparments shoulf ONLY ONLY ONLY be used for fire and rescue services. NOTHING ELSE. Anything else is a HUGE WASTE OF MONEY. We don’t need to pay someone $150,000 a year plus benefits to walk around Walnut Creek on Friday night counting people in bars.

As for reduced response times, how about we conduct a study on just how much property would be lost or lives lost because of a couple of minutes added here or there. I bet dollars to donuts its not even close to what it would cost to keep these stations open and full of 2 day a week workers.

46 @26 May 8, 2013 at 9:20 AM

And if it cost 250K to hire a person salary and benefits. What would you rather pay out? The 116k or the 250k. Clearly your problem is with one person’s salary not cost savings.

47 BCuzItzClaycord May 8, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Smokey – 2 weeks ago Twa was whining how he could not see the bay or mountain from his office window………..So…….I say any “excess” funds will go to a new admin center so he can have a “view”.
This county is really pathetic. If half of the Claycord whiners would actaully watch a BOS mtg rather than reading the blather of Borenstein they might see what is really going on. You have 5 people running the show that don’t have 2 brain cells to rub together between the entire lot. Geez….The Concord City Council has more brains than your BOS. And Twa???? Yep give him a 16% raise plus increases to his benefits, like $30,000 a year into his deferd comp to make up for the fact he was an old fart when he came into the county pension system (oopps I guess they forgot he gets a pension for Minnesota too) But hey, we know you are to busy watching Glee or American Idol to really pay attention.

48 just me May 8, 2013 at 10:51 AM

wow @Family Dog ….I suggest you study the EMS System before you comment on things you really don’t know about. The EMS system is a lot more than what you’re making it out to be. The local hospital, the fire dept, and ambulance are all part of it. But it also includes people like the PD, lifeguards at a pool/beach, teachers that are trained in advance life support methods etc. A heart attack or stroke can cause damage to a person in as little as 5 mins. If your ambulance is located in Downtown WC and you’re at Clayton Community Park do you think it will make it there in 5 mins? doubtful!

Having had the chance to work around a pool in the past I can tell you when we called 911 after a child had gone under water and was not breathing….(purple and blue when pulled out), it was the lifeguards and then the crew from station 6 that saved the child. It was another 5 or so mins before the ambulance crew was able to arrive on scene. Now if you think that child’s life isn’t worthy of “a large hook and ladder” (which ConFire doesn’t even operate they have a regular truck) maybe your priorities are not in order. I would hope you’d see a family member or friend as important enough for the FD to arrive in their first due vehicle whatever it may be. (also….there are 3 trucks that work all of Central CoCo for Confire so the likelihood of a truck arriving on a call is not that high unless you’re in downtown Concord,/WC, or part of Martinez)

49 gjets May 8, 2013 at 11:45 AM

TWA is 69 years old, wtf, and still working. Guess he has nothing better to do than screw up CCC Fire. If you work past age 55 and don’t retire when you can in good physical shape you are pathetic. Ask yourself this, if you cannot do 5 pullups and 25 pushups after age 55, you are doing something wrong, probably a stroke is around the corner, hope your extra money you shaved from the county working your whole life away was worth it. Don’t worry TWA you are in the same boat as most county leaders in CCC. “Walrusses”

50 YourFriendBen May 8, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Big Dog,

First off, thank you for helping to illustrate my point further. All of those scenarios you gave could be handled just the same by having the fire department transition to just provide Advanced EMTs and EMTs and save on the cost of paramedics (perhaps you are not familiar with the new Advanced EMT scope of practice, if not you should review it).

Second, measure H funds only partially offset the cost of Contra Costa Fire providing paramedics. If this unnecessary duplication of service is eliminated those funds could be utilized more efficiently. Some of the costs that measure H does not cover is quality assurance/quality improvement and physician medical director staff, and a big one, the fact that every single firefighter who has a paramedic license gets a 10% salary increase. How many firefighters with the department are paramedics? If your department instead provides Advanced EMTs and EMTs and this 10% increase in pay is eliminated, or say decreased to 5% for an Advanced EMT this could amount to a substantial cost savings as well.

51 YourFriendBen May 8, 2013 at 12:23 PM

You have to understand that I am not advocating to destroy and close the fire department.

The fire department should first focus on providing fire protection and suppression services, then branch outward if able, and do so in an efficient and proven beneficial manner.

There are avenues to cut savings and expenses further if the department were truly willing.

Would you rather have 20 stations staffed with paramedics or 30 stations with Advanced EMTs and EMTs who can provide all the same lifesaving care a paramedic can and just lack the long term supportive and palliative care a paramedic brings which the department does really utilize now anyways. (I realize there are a few exceptions, but none of these are life threatening time sensitive conditions either).

52 YourFriendBen May 8, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Sorry, I meant *does not really utilize now anyways.*.

53 The Family Dog May 8, 2013 at 12:27 PM

@just me

I suggest that you take a look at how the rest of the world manages to deal with basic medical calls without having fire trucks respond. Really??? why in hell are we sending a truck hauling 50,000 gallons of water, 300 feet of hose, 80 feet of ladder, oxygen tanks, hazmat response equipment and 6 guys to the old folks home 10 times a week? You really think thats efficient? But efficiency is not what the fire fighters union wants, they want optics. They want to look busy and heroic.

54 cici May 8, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Closing just in time for the worst fire season yet to come.:(

55 The Mamba May 8, 2013 at 12:46 PM

#43 despite your vitriol, you don’t really make a point. So good luck with that.

56 Joe Blow May 8, 2013 at 12:47 PM

@The Family Dog
Really? 50,000 gallons of water??? I could go into the rest of your misinformation, but that one statement speaks volumes on your ignorance of the whole matter.

57 Smokey May 8, 2013 at 12:59 PM

@BClutz
I think you misread my statement. I think it is criminal what the supes and Twa is doing to fir protection. Phepho’s husband worked for the Lab and was then taken over by Alameda. He has never been a friend of this area according to friends of mine in SRV. Gioa is only concerned with west county and how he looks there. Glover, well he is like talking to a tree. Twa was hired to come in here and do exactly what is happening. He gets his raise because of it. property taxes are up but they still blame the retirement. WRONG!!! The fire chief is a great punching bag, if he is leaving why doesnt come out and tell the truth instead of hiding behind the supes? Maybe because he has another chief job? I know how politics work, there is more backroom dealing than you can imagine. Dont think its not happening here. Twa will run this place into the ground and the supes will have to ask for state or federal help. Its coming soon!

58 @the mamba May 8, 2013 at 1:20 PM

I’m not suprised you didn’t get it. Your logic is only one way. Good luck with that.

59 The Family Dog May 8, 2013 at 1:27 PM

@joe Blow

500 gallons in the truck, 49,500 in the belly fat of the guys riding it.

60 just me May 8, 2013 at 1:39 PM

@family dog…

wow what dept do you watch? 6 guys? I don’t know of any dept that has 6 per engine/truck. Maybe you’re watching old Emergency TV shows from the 70′s for your info, but as far as I know all agencies in CoCo are mostly 3 ppl on board (engineer, FF, medic). Back in the days of shows like Emergency yes they showed 4 guys on an engine, 2 riding in a truck type vehicle. And as was said earlier 50,000 gallons of water??? Umm try 300-500 gallons in most engines. I will admit I don’t know FFs the world over but you often see FFs from around the world responding to disasters…not just “ambulances.”

The bigger issue/question here and where the real discussion should be is why are in Central County still having most of the impact of station closers? So now one station in East CoCo is closing but 4 stations and 2 other engines have been taken out of service in Central CoCo. Think it’s time we look at splitting up ConFire back into a Central CoCo dept and separate depts. that serve East CoCo and San Pablo. Stop balancing the budget on the backs of Central CoCo residents.

61 CatWoman May 8, 2013 at 1:45 PM

@The Family Dog
I was also going to mention the costs associated with keeping the Fire Station open–and the guys that ride the truck–but do they really put 500 gallons in those trucks? what about the little ones?

62 Smokey May 8, 2013 at 1:46 PM

@Family Dog
You truly are and idiot! You sit behind a keyboard and make these statements to get people going. But I know your type; you don’t have the guts, knowledge or abilities to say or do anything without your keyboard. You are what we used to call and still do to this day from the military, fire, police and the man/woman busting their back at their job, you are a COWARD!!! You did succeed at getting people to respond. Yea!

63 The Family Dog May 8, 2013 at 1:58 PM

THis is why we are closing fire stations. Right here.

http://unionwatch.org/the-financial-arsonists-of-contra-costa-county/

64 BCuzItzClaycord May 8, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Smokey – I think you misread me. I have nothing but contemp for Twa and the so called BOS of this county. To put it in plain English..They are IDIOTS. I’m from a County (King County, Washington State) that dwarfs this county and is run 1000x better and the sups are part-time. This county is run by inept wanna be “big time” politicians when they nothing more than zits on the nose of society.
I was in fact agreeing with you. I have a very close friend who is retired from SRVF and they are an extremely well run dept. That is because the County does not run them, oversee them our have anything to do with them. This county waste millions on the “Illegal Birthing/Care Center” know as Contra Costa Regional Med Center. People talk about a waste of tax payer dollars……..Well that is it folks. The biggest waste in this county is that hospital and clinics.

65 The Family Dog May 8, 2013 at 2:05 PM

“The average firefighter in Contra Costa County who earned more than $30,000 in base wages in 2011 (to eliminate volunteers, temp workers, and partial year hires) had an average base wage of $95,000, earned overtime of $37,000, collected “other earnings” (primarily health benefits) of $12,000, and collected an employer-paid contribution into their pension plan of $24,000 (far less than is necessary to properly fund their pensions, but that is another story), for average total compensation of $168,000. Bear in mind this is the average, meaning that the average pay at retirement is undoubtedly higher than that. Firefighters who work 30 years for Contra Costa County can reasonably expect to collect a retirement pension of around $100,000 per year.” thats before spiking.

mind boggling.

66 Anon May 8, 2013 at 2:40 PM

@justme Only three guys per engine? I was at Concord Costco a few weekends back and there were two fire engines parked in the fire lane. I counted 8 guys standing in a circle talking and saw two others inside shopping.

67 just me May 8, 2013 at 3:51 PM

@Anon not sure what you saw but they carry FFs. There was a big uproar with CalFire a year or so back when they made the choice to follow many depts. and go from 4 to 3 FFs per engine.

Sad how much misinformation has been put out there in regards the staffing of fire depts. I put a lot of the blame back on the ConFire for not getting true factual info out before the vote last fall. Only need to read some of the comments here on what people think and feel in regards how an engine is staffed, how it’s used, how many respond to an emergency etc. I think (hope) that if the true facts had been laid out instead of this mud slinging by some people who think they know everything about everything we could have worked this whole agreement out.

68 brewed May 8, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Just curious… why doesn’t CCCFD have transport services? Is it because of a contract with AMR? I know that would be a nice little revenue stream to offset some costs. They should start a flex medic program where 3 or 4 ambulances owned by the fire department just spread out across the city and roam from station to station picking up as many calls as they can. Do CCC firefighters not want to work hard? I know this area is pretty slow compared to other low income cities, not a huge call volume. But when youre charging 500 bucks for a ride to the hospital and 50 bucks for a nasal cannula… that can add up when you’re going 1 call per 1.5 hours.

69 Safety Second May 8, 2013 at 11:41 PM

@BigDog
We pay 5-Star Generals $167,000 and infantry soldiers $35,000. I’m betting CoCo County could easily form a volunteer fire department where no benefits are provided except for maybe a minimum wage stipend.

70 Big Dog May 9, 2013 at 12:09 AM

Doc Ben, Advanced EMT’s are not, and will not be authorized for use in Urban/Suburban Settings. They are in the scope for very rural areas of california and were designed to replaced EMT – 2′s. Besides, would you rather have an experienced fire medic with 10 years on the job, or a green ambulance paramedic that has read about all of those calls. Granted, AMR does have some experienced staff, but the turnover is so high, that the majority of the Ambulance Paramedics have less than 5 years experience in EMS. Measure H does cover the 10%, plus a QA RN, and the Medical Director is covered by the county. Most Engines in Con Fire are staffed with one Paramedic on board. On occasion, you will find two, but mostly one. If you actually did your research, you would see that EMS is pennies on the dollar to operate for Con Fire, and the real cost is just staffing stations period. You will never have the support of any of the Emergency Physician Groups, or Medical Director to kill the Paramedic Program at Con Fire. Many lives have been saved. Sorry Doc, maybe you are not familiar with the EMS System, the Advanced EMT Scope in Rural Medicine, and the standard of care that is provided by Fire Based EMS Systems in California. EMS is a value added service that Fire Departments provide, and have no intention of reducing. The only enhancement that I could see to the system, would be having the Fire Department take over all 911 Medical Transport, and that would greatly shorten dispatch times (since Con Fire answers the 911 call), provide better coordination of patient care, and provide more opportunity for seamless uninterrupted care of the patient from home to the hospital. In addition the FD would benefit from revenue for responses that only AMR currently bills insurance/the patient for.

71 @safety second May 9, 2013 at 7:50 AM

You really have a problem with what someone makes. Try this call a block watch meeting for your neighborhood and see how many volunteers you get. I’d hate to rely on a volunteer when his favorite TV show was on.

72 The Family Dog May 9, 2013 at 8:13 AM

@ safety second

yes I have a problem that the average Con Fire employee costs me $168,000 a year and can retire at 50 on $200,000 a year for the rest of his life and when he dies his wife has survivor benefits and I have to pay her $200,000 a year plus health benefits until she dies.

Absolutely I have a problem with that.

73 YourFriendBen May 9, 2013 at 8:15 AM

“Doc Ben, Advanced EMT’s are not, and will not be authorized for use in Urban/Suburban Settings. They are in the scope for very rural areas of california and were designed to replaced EMT – 2′s”

Completely and utterly wrong. I don’t think you are updated on the latest EMS regulation changes. The new Advanced EMT role is not at all equivalent to the old EMT-Intermediate role, there is a very big difference. The Advanced EMT role will be used frequently in the urban setting and even used right here in Contra Costa County. Don’t believe me? Call up the EMS office and ask them about, there are plans to implement it for East Contra Costa and Richmond over the next few years.

“Besides, would you rather have an experienced fire medic with 10 years on the job, or a green ambulance paramedic that has read about all of those calls”

Being that the ambulance paramedic actually transports and is the one who is doing the long term care, IV’s, medication administration, monitoring during the entire transport, etc. and the fire medic just spends an initial 5-10 minutes with a patient then turns over care, I’ll take the ambulance paramedic. Like any health care practitioner, I imagine some of these fire medics, especially in slower coverage areas have had serious degradation of skills and clinical knowledge over the years.

“Measure H does cover the 10%,”

Not according to my sources, the measure H funds are for equipment, training etc., but are not used toward salary at all (and is actually not even enough to be used for 10% increase in salary to every firefighter that is a paramedic).

“You will never have the support of any of the Emergency Physician Groups, or Medical Director to kill the Paramedic Program at Con Fire.”

Never say never.

” Sorry Doc, maybe you are not familiar with the EMS System, the Advanced EMT Scope in Rural Medicine, ”

You are the one not familiar. This has all been changed in the past 12 months and is not at all what it used to be.

“and that would greatly shorten dispatch times (since Con Fire answers the 911 call)”

Isn’t the ambulance dispatch simultaneously with the fire department? Also it’s actually the police agencies that answer the 911 call then transfer it to Con Fire once they ascertain that it is medical in nature.

” provide better coordination of patient care”

How so? If the fire department and ambulance personnel are not coordinating their care then it sounds like they need to go through some joint training together, this isn’t something that should take a whole system redesign to workout.

74 BCuzItzClaycord May 9, 2013 at 8:30 AM

@ Safety Second – and whose employer will let them leave their job to go fight a fire???? And would the employer continue to pay the employee or would the volunteer/employee have to charge vacation or go without pay??? And if you were the employer would you let an employee leave the job to fight a fire??? Would you pay the employee to do such or make the employee charge vacation or go without pay??? Not all fires occure between 5pm and 6am.
Volunteers work great in small towns and rural areas where people are all local, work locally or own a business and live in the same town. These areas are not over built with high density housing, have no highrise buildings and usually English is the only language. In these cases the community fundrasies to purchases and maintain the equipment as it is not paid for any governement entity. But in CC County not many live and work in the same place, there are highrise structures, high density housing and with Concord a major language barrier with over 30% of the residents. And I doubt Concord could fundraise enough money to pay for and maintain any equipment. And before you get all snarky twitchy britches I grew up in a town of 800 people and we had a volunteer fire dept.
So we need to know when are YOU going to organize this “volunteer” department and start the fund raising efforts???? Huh?? When??????

75 @72 May 9, 2013 at 8:37 AM

It doesn’t cost YOU that. That’s a ridiculously simplistic statement. Do a little reseach on finance, annuities, investing, budgeting, and some basic accounting then get back to us.

76 The Family Dog May 9, 2013 at 10:06 AM

@ 72 hahahahaha if its not being paid for by ME and the taxpaying mugs of Contra Costa, who is paying for it?

77 ladybug May 9, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Firefighters and their union are taking us for all they can get away with.
Typical greedy government mentality.
I want more stations closed.

78 BCuzItzClaycord May 9, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Family Dog – to clarify what #75 said in simple English for you. You personally do not pay $168,000 in property tax as you live in the “Claycord Area” and people here do not pay that kind of property tax on a home as none of the around here has that kind of value. And no sales tax revenues go to fire as that all geos to the County General Fund and City General Funds. It has been made crystal clear by the County Administrator, Mr David Twa that the County General Fund does not give any monies to the various fire districts.
Now to be fair….you do pay portion of said $168,000, be it a small portion but a portion. The collective (as in citizens) pay taxes on property (homes) that fund the entire dept.
To repeat you pay a portion but it is a small portion………No get your panties out of a wad and go about your day

79 The Family Dog May 9, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Another firefighter I presume. Don’t get your panties in a wad and keep sending the checks so I can work 2 days a week, live in a 4000 sq foot home, send my kids to private school, keep up the payments on my truck and bass boat, not to mention the place in Tahoe. Keep writing the checks, I need to retire at 50. Those hoses are very heavy you know.

Your days of gorging at the trough are almost over. THis county is going down the financial crapper and your pensions with it.

80 @yourfriendben May 9, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Richmond has also been trying to implement a paramedic program for over 7 years, they even have medics working for them but still are not allowed to operate in that capacity. As you said earlier, never say never, but I would be amazed to see them implement a totally new program within the county(and for that matter northern California) because of all the legwork, policy writing etc that would go into it. There are no standards in use anywhere nearby, since its not actual “paramedic” service i’m not sure that measure H would give them any money for it.

81 BCuzItzClaycord May 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Family Dog – no not a fire fighter but a well enducated citizen who thank God has only live in the ignorant area 16 month and will be gone from this backwards area in February………..Just keep on being stuck on stupid like so many that live in this area are. Geez people in other States think California so libral, progressive, free-thinking ,educated…..Well they obviously have never been to Concord…..I have enver seen anything quite like this area when it comes to whining, complaining and do noting about it. Get off you a$$ and go to a fire board or BOS meeting and have your voice heard.
Ignorance is bliss Family Dog so you must be on happy SOB.

82 The Family Dog May 9, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Dont let the door hit you on the way out, and be sure to leave behind your first born who will be sold to the highest bidder to help backfill our unfunded pension mandates.

Ignorance? do you know how much we owe public employees in this county for their pensions and healthcare? how many hundreds of millions we dont have? look it up before you leave.

83 YourFriendBen May 9, 2013 at 1:11 PM

@80, never say never is correct. Contra Costa EMS is already in the process of having Advanced EMT’s in this county. They want them out there and are going to make it happen. The regulations have already been changed, it’s on the way.

84 BCuzItzClaycord May 9, 2013 at 4:10 PM

The unfunded pension thing is just a scare tactic….There is always money coming in and going out of pension funds. The problem YOUR county has is when there was excess funds in the pension fund the Retirement Board (of which 5 of hte 9 seats are county appointees) GAVE the money to the county…..That is right the pension fund has GIVEN the county money for years. The employees have bailed this counties butt out of the fire so many time it’s not funny. The pension fund owns several county bldgs including the 12 story one in Martinez. Go look at the history. Also this county had a habit of not depositing money in the fund while employees were still working, they wait until a person retires before putting in their share for that employee………So the Country created the “unfunded liablity” not he wokers. The only money going if for the employee while the a person is employed is the employee share. I know this as a nieghbor of ours is a retired accountant from the Auditor-Controllers office and told me this. If there is an unfunded liability YOUR county administration created it. FYI – Mr David Twa will go out with approx $100,000 in retirement from this county + the defered compensation from this county (for working 10 years or less) + his retirement from Minnesota – what do you think about that.
Again you need to RESEARCH all sides and do not believe everything the so called press says (the CC Times is joke of a news source, right up there with the “Pixley Picayune” or “Bugtussle Bugle”) …But that would be asking way too much.
Perhaps you have “pension envy”….Well that is your own fault. You could have gone to school, taken the test and gone thru the local fire academy or the Dept of Forrestry fire academy or any of the State fire academies…….The choice was yours. Bottom line if you chose a field/career with no pension that is your problem. If you want to live in an area with no public paid fire service then go live in rural Kentucky or W Virginia…….But when you live in one of the most EXPENSIVE urban areas in the US you have to pay. It’s as simple as that

85 Rock May 9, 2013 at 4:21 PM

@Family Dog
You live in a world of half truths. You seem to have SOME(few actually)facts correct and you just run with them and make these ridiculous blanket statements, but choose not acknowledge other compelling facts which actually lay out the truth. You probably think you’re smart and have all the answers, but in reality you have no real answers and will believe anything that the CC Times puts out or anything put out on this ridiculous website. Time for you to start you volunteer FD(LOL!). Con Fire runs 50k calls a year so good luck with that…you know…that luck you’ll need to cover that many calls and the overhead that it would cost to cover almost a million residents with a volunteer dept. YOU, Family Dog, actually only pay about 100 bucks a year(not the 168k you ridiculously claim) towards public safety where you live. So 8 bucks of your taxes per month goes to public safety. Sorry, your 8 dollar contribution doesn’t qualify you to be the CFO for CoCo County. Epic Fail. Don’t worry though. When you need help from these firefighters at some point, they’ll still help you out with a smile and concern, and they’ll never know you’re the keyboard coward that lambastes them daily.

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