Call For Papers: Next steps for ConFire

After the defeat of County Measure Q’s proposal for a parcel tax increase, several readers here have asked, “Now what?” What are the ways that county leaders can reduce operating costs while maintaining quality fire protection services? Certainly there are many sides to the argument. But full discussion is in order.

No doubt we could hear from a variety of stakeholders including but not limited to :Local 1230, Coco Tax, the Supervisors, past and/or present County Treasurer and Controllers, maybe even an insurance perspective.

Since the County refuses to listen to its own Grand Juries, it ought to spring for a study based on analysis and recommendations from an independent Big Eight agency firm with impeccable experience (preferably outside the political stench of California’ special interest politics in Sacramento).

So if any of these interests or public at large are willing to participate, please sharpen your pencils and weigh in.

You can simply comment hear with serious points, or prepare a thoughtful, longer piece. We are happy to work with any potential contributor on the technical side of posting here.

Comments

  1. Kris Hunt, Executive Director says

    Alas, Guy, these folks are in CCCERA and the pension cost is the problem along with the cost of retiree health. The District’s finances are a nightmare and unfortunately, the District waited until they could advertise a crisis to go out to the public.

  2. R.P. says

    Guy, bad idea. The idea is to reduce cost and the taxpayer burden that is already expressed in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    • says

      OK. Agreed. But no one has figured out yet how to unring that bell and I doubt there is a legal way to do it. So how do we keep our stations open?

    • Wendy Lack says

      @Guy Bjerke:

      As the old expression goes, you can’t get blood out of a turnip. I believe it’s just a matter of time before the “unringing of the bell” is tested in court. See:

      http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2012/06/29/pension-promises-can-be-altered-legal-scholar-says/158198/

      There are limits to the public’s tolerance of service cutbacks due to unaffordable pensions. The continual erosion of public services due to the pension problem cannot continue indefinitely — and additional taxes are not the answer (contrary to what most of the CoCo county sups and Chief Louder maintain). The public simply will not reward the bloated public pension system by feeding it more dollars.

      Until then, reducing staffing at each station, in lieu of closures, appears to be a path forward.

  3. says

    This may seem counter-intuitive, but outside the box thinking is required to solve this dilemma. Has anyone analyzed whether it would make sense to offer an early retirement incentive – get the more expensive firefighters off the District’s books and on to Calpers payroll? Perhaps a piece of the jigsaw puzzle?

    • Wendy Lack says

      @Guy Bjerke:

      Early retirement buy-outs don’t pencil out unless you’re permanently eliminating positions. Even then it’s quite an expensive undertaking. Plus, the firefighters are retiring at age 50 anyway, which is “early” given the average life span of 86.

      Note also that the District’s pension plan is not CalPERS, but CCCERA (http://www.cccera.org/).

      However there is merit, I believe, in moving to civilianize safety positions in the fire service. The pension definition of “safety” has been expanded to encompass roles beyond those originally intended. This drives up compensation and pension costs unnecessarily. The goal should be to civilianize as many jobs as possible, to limit the numbers of expensive safety personnel on the payroll.

      The numbers don’t lie — escalating pension costs are driving the District’s expenses into the red. I’m looking forward to the day that county sups acknowledge this reality, state their commitment to making necessary reforms to pare back excessive benefits, and they actually take action towards that end.

      Surely bargaining of the new Local 1230 contract, after the current one expires in June 2014, will be a bellwether for the District’s future.

    • says

      @Guy- I thought about this too. But only after dissolution and/or receivership. Any reformation of the fire district after bankruptcy will still have some fiduciary obligation to contributions already made. Buyouts and early retirement packages financed at lower rates may be the financial instruments to help clear out the inventory of current pensions.

      Democrats are already discussing folding Keoghs and 401ks into Social Security. What may be forced on the goose should be applied to the Gander, to achieve fairness if not uniformity required by the Constitution.

      It would be fitting for public-sector workers to experience the same takings that are going to occur in the private sector

    • Kris Hunt, Executive Director says

      You mean not reducing staff? I can’t tell you what they are thinking. The numbers were very murky and only presented verbally. Presumably there will be more definitive information available for next week’s meeting. Nobody should have made a serious decision based on that presentation.

      The CHief had been asked for alternatives previously by Candace Andersen, but the Chief never suggested anything previously but closing down stations and never provided any numbers. What a mess!

      Again, the full responsibility for this situation rests with the Fire District Board.

  4. TaxOutFool says

    Steve, Good call out.
    You now can see the politics in the Fire District and Union influence on the Board of Supervisors. The next question would be, How many firefighters will be laid off along with the station closures?
    The surprising answer shows the protection of the union jobs regardless of public safety response times. Some information put out by the district and statisticians is the selective call times and other data to provide limited information justifying their recommendations. They are true numbers and times. It is the way they are displayed to look to scare and intimidate the public.
    You would think that the Board of Supervisors would see through this sham of reconfigured information cherry picked for public eyes to infer the department is as efficient as it can get and needs more money. The problem with the fire district is clear as a bell. The answer is the fox guarding the hen house. With that type of policy we will never ever get sustainable fire service within any type reasonable budget. The lawsuit by the union over pension spiking is a prime example.
    I can’t figure out if the Board of Supervisors is afraid and intimidated by the fire union or just manipulated and influenced.
    Steve, another question is why are they suggesting cutting only 3 million when they claim desperately need 17 million and have exhausted the funding reserves?
    When you put out so many conflicting facts to the public your result will probably always be no to any new tax.

  5. Steve says

    The numbers do NOT add up. How do you only save 3 million when closing four stations? 3 million represents about 3% of the budget while closing four stations represents about 15% of the stations. If you cost average the budget divided by the number of staitions (100 million/28 stations) you get an average cost per station of 3.6 millon. I understand part of the budget goes toward overhead, which begs the question how much of the budget is going to overhead(?), but the 3 million dollar savings number doesn’t pass the smell test.

    Vince, how do you reconsile the miniscule savings of 3 million (3 percent) while closing 4 stations (15%)? It doesn’t add up.

    • Kris Hunt, Executive Director says

      It appears they are not going to lay off firefighters so they would be closing the stations and reducing overtime. Plus this figure is only for 1/2 of the fiscal year. It was not an impressive presentation and nobody would want to make a decision based on the information presented.

      And they want to pretend that these cuts are not pension-driven. Talk about living in a fiscal cave!!

  6. says

    The Fire District has provided an inadequate justification for their closing of the four particular stations (no data at all!) and they claim their other changes (many of which sound good) will not solve their financial problems. So what is new? Oh, yes, no mention of the role that pensions play in this financial mess but the staff did manage to take a swipe at the “Super Majority” – note to staff, only 53% of the people voted for this tax (with NO opposition materials other than a ballot argument). See the document here.

    • Kris Hunt, Executive Director says

      They are only going to save $3 million a year with the proposed changes and shutting of stations. This does not solve their financial problems and still leaves the District no reserves and continues their practice of not purchasing replacement vehicles and equipment which has been a problem for years.

  7. Steve says

    Vince, I think we need to look to more cost effective private paramrdic services. Private paramedic services provide quicker response times at reduced cost. The current FD respose at the current exorbinant costs is not even close to being cost effective.

  8. John G says

    Bravo Vince Wells !
    The comment about Contra Costa County responsibility for medical calls is the best one you have ever made. While the county does provide for some relief with a small paramedic compensation, it is nowhere near the cost to the district budgets.
    Vince, if you, the union 1230 and the rest of us continue to pressure the county for medical call funding to our Fire Districts, we may see some real progress.
    Note to everyone….. Call your Supervisor and tell them we need more money from the County for medical response costs. Do it today ! We have been ripped off by County Health Services for too long.

    • John G says

      P.S. My suggestion;
      Find the exact cost for a fire call per hour.
      All calls are recorded by type and duration. Tally all medical calls and response duration quarterly, deduct what the county health services provides in funding and bill the balance to Contra Costa Health Services budget.

      This should not violate any specific agency funding because it is the responsibility of Health Services to burden this cost.

  9. Peter V says

    Finally we have seen the answer in the quote from Vince Wells in the paper:
    Rather than form such a service within the fire district, the county should look to its ambulance service contract with American Medical Response, Wells said. “EMS is the county’s responsibility.”

    That is the answer – The county is not paying anywhere near the cost of the emergency medical services (yet). Those who cite a few thousand dollars a month paid by the County to specific fire stations that respond to calls surely understand that doesn’t come close to the cost of the services rendered.

    Mr. Wells is 100% correct – and he now appears ready to lead a paradigm shift within the Fire and EMS community.

  10. Bruce R. Peterson Lafayette says

    Solutions??? If I was dictator of the world, I would have a hard time solving all of the problems that have built up in my lifetime. Finding things made in America, is nearly impossible. The last item I bought, had a” Columbia” label on it. An American company that used to make nice clothes in America. The nice gloves were made in Vietnam.
    Construction jobs used to be all union, in California, now only government construction jobs use union workers. Most electronic items are made offshore. We are left with an abundance of highly paid government workers, without many people with high paying jobs to support them. Something like Greece.
    People expecting a solution to the public pension’s unfunded liabilities, are asking me to make four legged pigs fly.
    People should click on Wendy Lack’s “Elements of Slavery”, line. It.s a good story .

    • Richard says

      Well, Bruce. So what you’re saying is that since you can’t come up with “meaningful” solutions, you’d rather cut off your nose to spite your face, and not have adequate public safety departments needed to keep your family and my family safe? I guess you’re willing to roll the dice that your family isn’t going to need a timely response from emergency crews anytime soon. I’m not. What’s wrong with you people!?

  11. Richard says

    BGR,
    Don’t ya think it’s interesting that nobody has any “meaningful”(as you guys like to say)solutions to this issue here on this site or over at CCTax? You guys just shouted “no” and left the public holding the bag even though the majority of the public wanted the tax(I think it’s funny that you guys claim “victory”say the “public has spoken”). The minority won on a “technicality”. I’ll troll here on occasion to see if anybody comes up with anything meaningful. I won’t hold my breath…lol. Oh…and nice speech, Ms. Lack(rolling eyes).

  12. TaxOutFool says

    Can you believe that Vince Wells union cronies are suing to be able to continue spiking their pensions? What a crock from this 1230 bunch. They said that pension reform is already accepted and they will follow Governor Jerry Brown’s law.
    Then the lying back stabbing greedy union sues so they can continue the spiraling unfunded liability to promote what should have never been done in the first place, padding their pension with freak math that are not only immoral but reprehensible. I guess this says a lot about the union’s integrity. I will never vote for a Fire Tax with this type of deceit. Taxpayers get screwed by the public employee unions again. All these unions are is a funding mechanism for government influence. We are left as the tax paying slaves.

  13. Bruce R, Peterson, Lafayette says

    BGR wants positive from me. #1. I have 2 fire extinguishers in my kitchen, just in case I go brain dead & start a fire. #2. I have cleared the dry grass off the public property in front of my house for decades. Somebody cut it decades ago & a ridiculous charge appeared on my property tax bill. It took months & a friendly firefighter’s ( Phil O’Sullivan) visit, to get the charge taken off. I can’t get the City of Lafayette, to cut their dead weeds, if my life depended on it. The firefighters from Station #17 drive past the fire hazards, every day, on their way to Lafayette Safeway. They have zero interest in fire prevention. The old saying is “An once of prevention, is worth a pound of cure”.
    As for Social Security. The controlled by Congress, U.S. Postal Service changed to it, for new hires. (optional for others) This is why the fire agency and/or county needs to go bankrupt. If there is some reason Counties can’t go bankrupt. that will have to change. Taxing every land owner & business out of the State, is not a very good option.

    • Wendy Lack says

      Make no mistake: Slavery is alive and well in the U.S.:

      “In modern-day America, some state governments already exhibit disturbing elements of slavery . . . taxpayers are responsible for generous compensation that they will not get but are coerced into paying. Historically, the purpose of a constitution is to enumerate and limit the power of government, not to enshrine special privileges for a special class of individuals . . . In the coming years, the war between those who pay taxes and those who receive them will only increase.”

    • says

      Once again, we are looking for some proposals and ideas, best served with some rudimentary numbers.

      Speaking of overreach, it’s hard to equate the relative financial and psychic pain of increased taxation of middle class Americans with real slavery and human trafficking here and around the world, including routine enslavement of young girls in India for prostitution.

    • Wendy Lack says

      When government spending and regulation spin out of control, the government’s legitimacy is undermined. If the government forces me to subsidize services that I don’t want or need, it takes my money under threat of imprisonment at the point of a gun. This is a form of theft and slavery. You may consider this analogy to be overreach, but it’s reality.

      When the rule of law and government legitimacy are undermined, you get lawlessness, as we have seen in Greece — where paying taxes is only for a relative handful of chumps. Not good.

      Reforming public safety pensions to reduce benefits for current employees is essential. This is the legal hurdle that must be conquered to begin to regain budget control. And repaying the crushing debt associated with these benefits also is a tall order. These same challenges are faced statewide, as well as across the U.S (see: http://bit.ly/QIPhc9).

      While expanding private paramedic services — in lieu of more expensive public ones — would cut costs while maintaining service levels, the core issue here are the out-of-control compensation costs, chiefly pension and retiree health benefits.

      However, this is not what the Fire Board will hear from Chief Louder on Tuesday, December 4th. See the Fire Board agenda and staff reports at: http://bit.ly/X6fWkO

    • Steve says

      “TaxOutFool December 5, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Steve, Good call out.

      You now can see the politics in the Fire District and Union influence on the Board of Supervisors…. You would think that the Board of Supervisors would see through this sham of reconfigured information cherry picked for public eyes to infer the department is as efficient as it can get and needs more money.”

      I do see that the politics in the Fire department Unions influence of the Board of Supervisors and I do think the Board of Supervisors would see through this sham if they weren’t so beholden to the unions.

      “reconfigured information cherry picked” … that is it in a nutshell.

  14. Vincent Wells says

    Let me attempt to get real dialogue going with hopefully realistic suggestions. I will list the currentl service (level) model on the 2 most common types of calls so we can start from there. I am very interested in hearing realistic suggestions that can actually be applied. I believe that any major change in service delivery, will take quite sometime to implement regardless of whether or not the change is approved.

    1)
    If you call 911 for a family member having a medical problem, you currently get the closest fire engine (three personnel, with at least one of them being a paramedic) and a ambulance provided by AMR staffed with two personnel. Total of 5 personnel. Depending on where you are , that ambulance is staffed with either 2 paramedics, or 1 paramedic and 1 EMT. The fire engine is coming from the closest fire station and the ambulance could be coming from anywhere. It could be closer then the fire station or it could be coming from anywhere in the county. The cost for the fire engine is covered by your property tax allocution that goes to the fire district. The ambulance is a private company contracted by the county to respond, the company only charges you if you are transported. No additional charge from fire district. If the call does not require all personnel, then the appropriate resources are available for the next call. For an example, if it is a vehicle accident with no injuries or hazards, whoever gets there first will cancel the other unit over the radio if they are not needed. If the call warrants the use of the fire crew and ambulance, both units are committed to the call.

    2)
    If you call 911 because your kitchen is on fire, you currently get 4 engines, 1 truck, 2 battalion chiefs. This is called a “first alarm”. There is only one crew in each station so you will empty 5 fire stations for this response. Each engine is staffed with three fire fighters, and the truck is staffed with three fire fighters as well. This gets you 15 fire fighters and two supervisors to your home if it is on fire. The engines come from the 5 closest fire stations to your home. For example. If you live downtown Martinez, you get T12, E14, E13 (the three stations in Martinez), E9 from Pacheco, E 5 from Pleasant Hill if they are all available. Once the first engine gets to the call, it is that Captain’s responsibility to advise whether there is a fire and to decide on whether to keep all engines/trucks coming, or to cancel some or all of them. If it as a major fire or can’t be handled by the 5 units coming, it is that captains responsibility to call for a “second alarm (5 more units) or greater.
    As you can see, if any station is closed, it means that the next closest station will respond from a further distance. We currently have 28 fire stations, each staffed with 3 fire fighters. The area covered includes; 9 cities and the unincorporated area of the county.

    I have worked on a private ambulance in the system mentioned by Mr. Weir, where in the rural areas, the fire station was staffed by one paid fire fighter and where the volunteers would respond to the scene in their personal vehicles. As a two person ambulance, we often found ourselves alone for the entire call, or for a long period of time. Especailly if the volunteers knew the patient because they were a frequent caller. Yes, it is a cheaper service level, but not the same as having paid fire fighters on duty, responding from the fire station in a “code three” vehicle. The volunteers would have to obey traffic laws and respond with normal traffic if they are available to respond at all. Try getting through downtown Concord at rush hour in your private vehicle responding to someone who is having a major medical emergency.

    Just for educational purposes, many people don’t realize that we have 11 different fire departments/districts in this county. Each area has the same response to the two types of incidents at the beginning of this post. We have the response maitrix for departments/ districts in Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Solano County, and in Contra Costa County. The majority of the urban departments in all of these counties have the same system where the fire engine is the first responder to medical calls with a private ambulance providing medical transportation. In Moraga Orinda and in San Ramon Valley, the fire department staffs the ambulances with firefighter/paramedics. However, they still send a fire engine and the fire ambulance for a total of 5 personnel to medical calls. In these two cases, the fire district bills the patient if they are transported.
    Here are the 11 fire agencies in CCC.
    Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (30-2)= 28 fire stations(84 firefighters).
    San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District 7 fire stations
    Richmond Fire Department 7 stations
    East Contra Costa County Fire Protection (8-4) = 4 stations
    Moraga Orinda Fire District 5 fire stations
    City of Pinole (2-1)= 1 fire station
    Rodeo Hercules Fire District (2-1) = 1 fire station
    City of El Cerrito 2 fire stations
    Kennsington Fire District 1 fire station
    Crockett (1 volunteer station)
    Cal Fire 1 fire station in East County on Morgan Territory
    * the (-) is how many stations/ crews that have been cut since 2008 total 9 in the county

    Hopefully, we can start from here with other suggestions.
    In response to privatizing the fire district, I would ask, for more details. Would the county contract for fire services? Seeing how money is not generated by responding to fires, hazards, natural disasters, how would the services be paid for. The cost to the company could vary based on the type of call, man hours required, and resources used. Would they bill? It would have to be a pretty healthy contract for a company to want to provide the services at a set amount not knowing if their is going to be a major flood or wild land fire that consumes resources above expected expenditures. Would the funds come from property taxes like Con Fire does? How would that company handle the loss of 32 million dollars in tax revenues? What happens if that company goes out of business or realizes that it cost more then its worth and wants out of the deal?

    • Bruce R. Peterson Lafayette says

      This is 100% propaganda. I keep running into young healthy, wealthy, retired firefighters, living in luxury, in Lafayette & Moraga.
      The pay, benefits & retirement for firefighters is way out of line. After your agency files for bankruptcy, re-hired firefighters can get on the Social Security program.

    • says

      The point of this thread Bruce is not just to be negative but propose serious alternatives. You proposed (thank you) that fire fighters transition to social security. Could you run some numbers that compare SSI contribution and employer match v what occurs now?

    • Vincent Wells says

      You can check the facts. This information is easily accessible by contacting the dispatch centers to confirm what the response is to the two call types I listed. Not sure what part is propoganda, but I do think the facts clearly state that any change in response to save money would have to be a lower level of service.
      Bankruptcy
      There are only three city departments in this county, Pinole, El Cerrito, and Richmond, the remaining cities belong to a Fire District. It would be difficult for a Fire District to declare bankruptcy if it is even possible ( not an attorney, so I cannot confirm). There is no requirement for the number of fire fighters or fire stations provided by a district. Contra Costa County Fire Protection District covers 9 of the remaining cities and the unincorporated areas like North Richmond, El Sobrante, Pacheco, Clyde, Briones, and Alhambra Valley. The revenue collected for the fire district from each city is based on the percentage of tax allocuted to the fire district based on the rates established by prop 13 in 1978. The number of fire stations in each city is based on their location when they joined the district and overall coverage of the entire district, it is not based on the amount of revenue collected by each city. The Fire District Board of Directors has the ultimate decision regarding what stations remain opened or closed, not the individual Cities. When the district has a revenue problem, it can close stations, lay off personnel, or decrease services in order to get within the revenue received. Con Fire receives about 78 million dollars annually in property tax revenue from the 9 cities and unincorporated areas of the county. This has gone down 32 million dollars over the last four years due to loss of property value. Add this to the stock market crash which increased pension costs and other increases, and you see the “entire” problem. The district can go from 28 stations down to 18 and be within the budget. The district is not obligated to maintain a certain service level, so bankruptcy would not be an option I do not think. The debt is mainly operating costs, not bonds, and credit. I believe a judge would simply order them to reduce their operating costs. A city fire department shares the entire general fund for a city, therefore due to the city’s debt obligations and mandatory services required by a city, they have been able to file bankruptcy. Many people focus on the fire departments like in Vallejo and in Stockton, but it is the city that filed bankruptcy. The entire city is impacted.
      Measure Q was an attempt to maintain services, not to pay off debt.
      As far as changes to the firefighters pay and benefits, they have done and have been significant. Switching us to social security is much more complicated then it sounds. We have employees with 1 year on to over 25 years. There multiple legal, long-term, and short term challenges to even begin to conceive such a concept.

    • cpa.mxps says

      There are only a few things I could conclude from the lengthy attempt to make excuses for the county’s inept fire service costs by Vincent Wells. We have too many fire districts in the county. This means too many Chiefs and too much management costs. Aside from the normal propaganda as Mr. Peterson and myself see, Mr. Wells has failed to contribute to this articles purpose other than reveal that any change must be approved by his union. This brings up another question for the solution, Who really is in charge of the fire services for the County areas? The people spoke by their voice at the ballot, but will the elected leaders listen to the voters or the special interest influence of unions? Will it be Bankruptcy, Change, or Loyalty to political contributors? To think we all thought the majority of people ruled in this country. Next stop, the fiscal cliff or real decisions by our Board of Supervisors? Now who is risking life and property?

    • says

      Vince, two questions:

      1. what is the status of EMS cost recovery within the district?

      2. Is it true that EMS waits for Fire Services to arrive before they treat-transport? Is there some MOU for this or does contractor do it on their own?

      Thanks.

  15. John says

    Contra Costa County needs to step up to the plate and provide more funds to the Fire Districts from the health services budget than 70K per engine for a paramedic. The 70k provided is just a fraction of what these fire districts spend on medical calls. The 70k provided does not even pay for one paramedic let alone the multiple shifts of a paramedic per engine. On top of that there are medical supplies that continuously require replenishing and disposal. The Board of Supervisors should pay the Fire Districts in today’s dollars for all medical calls. The fire districts should begin sending bills to the county for reimbursement costs.

  16. Doing the work says

    Change takes the fortitude to look at a system piece by piece and see what works and what doesn’t work. We have fire departments in all parts of our county that provide mostly medical calls. I believe what has been quoted as 75-80% of the calls are medical. We need to look if we need full blown fire engines going to medical calls.

    Many communities have looked at other models. I think we should too. Obviously the systems we have now are not sustainable.

    In regards to volunteers. This is not the answer. Whether it be medical call or calls to fire, we need trained personnel who are fit and trained to do the job. I want whoever comes to an emergency situation to be highly trained, not a volunteer who does this part-time. This is a profession, not a hobby.

    Lastly, I voted yes on Measure Q. I believe we have put the safety of the public at risk by not passing this measure. When one of your family members has a heart attack and you are waiting and waiting for “someone” to arrive, I hope you all have taken the personal responsibility to learn CPR so you can perform it for the 10 minute plus wait you will now have.

  17. Bruce R. Peterson Lafayette says

    Bankruptcy, is the only way to get out of the outrageous pensions the retired firefighters are collecting.

  18. says

    Now that is funny…. you list CoCo Tax as a stakeholder. They are no where even close to being a stakeholder. A mouth piece, yes, stakeholder, absolutely not!

    Where is the CoCo Tax plan anyway? We have been waiting for it for over a year in East County. How did Measure S work out for CoCo Tax, where is that pension reform they were fighting for? They killed the measure and we have never heard from them again.

    Again, mouth piece yes, stakeholder, absolutely not!

    • says

      Mike, you are forgetting the fact that the County, when projects, boards, or commissions require taxpayer representation, it routinely invites CocoTax, amongst others with public-government accounting expertise, to participate in proceedings.

      Your demand that Cocotax produce the blueprint is petulant sour grapes and reveals your complete misunderstanding of the role and responsibility of the County Supervisors.

      This post seeks serious ideas not ill-informed, political pot shots from hotheads in the peanut gallery playing the dillusional gadfly.

      If you have a serious recommendation we would welcome it. But wait…you’re in East County and your proposals have already been rejected by the voters.

    • says

      @BGR

      CoCo Tax has proven their accounting expertise alright with their phony math rhetoric on keeping engines in the stations for medical calls—HELLO, you are still paying the firefighters to sit in stations to do nothing while someone’s life may be on the line! So you save gas and engine wear or tear, that doesn’t break the bank as Ms. Hut would like to claim.

      What you are forgetting Billy, is that if you want the County to listen to an unqualified Grand Jury to make fire decisions, I am all for it. Districts like San Ramon and Moraga-Orinda can fund East County, I am cool with that considering everyone else pays a higher rate than we do for fire service—lets go ahead and merge. You guys can subsidize us, good plan Billy!

      As for this bogus statement about studies, there have been many done and they have all said the same thing, it’s not a spending problem, it’s a revenue problem. I am sure Vince Wells or whoever else can give you the list.

      My proposal in East County? I don’t recall me putting out a proposal. I recall simply supporting a proposal put forth by the Professionals. What is your proposal? Oh that is right, your proposal was “no” and now you can take credit in helping reduce stations and service like your buddies Kris Hunt and Wendy Lack.

      Far from sour grapes by the way, If you guys want to fight every solution, you at least can offer one of your own (without bullet points, but a real plan) as you claim you want serious ideas shared but still offer nothing and relying on others to comment.

      Man up and put out a plan and lets analyze it or are you afraid once you do it, people will figure you out? Come on Billy, what is your plan bud? If it’s a good plan, I’ll be the first to say lets move forward with it. But I doubt you have even thought that far ahead of a full blown plan.

      Hasn’t it been months now since Federal Glover presented Kris Hunt with homework?

    • says

      Talk about mouth pieces, rook. Seems you’ve found your calling threatening to take away stuff I don’t want or need.

      Congratulations, you’ll go far.

    • TaxOutFool says

      @ECTakaJerkforOakley,

      I think this article is about ideas not blubber garbage. Go back to the hole you crawled out of Mike unless you have a productive idea that does not include raping us taxpayers for the convenience of public employee labor and overspending.

      Thanks BGR for putting this idiot in his place back up his …. and sending him home.

      Now if anyone has a productive suggestion that is realistic to the current problem lets have it so our blind Supervisors and Fire Chief get the publics message again.

  19. Jack Weir says

    The BOS should seriously consider augmenting the full-time firefighter force with trained volunteers. Volunteer firefighters have been effectively deployed in many fire districts around the nation, and will work very well in our area.
    Union considerations aside, there is no reason why volunteers can’t fill in the gaps that may occur when the district is forced to reduce personnel costs. Using volunteers will allow one full-time firefighter to man each station and drive apparatus to an incident, where volunteers can respond from their home or workplace.

  20. cpa.mxps says

    There are several ways to reign in excessive costs. The most severe would be to contract out. Most people do not want this. Another huge factor is to reverse some of the excessive bargaining that has been done in the past. Of course, union members would need to ratify it by vote. The people that have already retired are locked in, but the current members could revise their contract through a vote. Another way to gain fire revenue from what I have read over the past six months is to charge for the amount of medical calls versus fire calls to the county. The county pays some of the costs for paramedics but not nearly what it costs the fire district to operate. The county should step in and provide more funding than just a portion of property tax. Some people will probably respond that it can’t be done or it’s illegal. The real truth is these examples are perfectly legal as long as the participants agree in the area of bargaining and the board of supervisors in the area of medical funds.