East Contra Costa Fire Chief Issues Open Letter to Personnel


The following letter was issued by East Contra Costa Fire Chief Hugh Henderson after Measures to improve fire service in both the City of Brentwood and City of Oakley failed.

As of a 1:00 am update by county elections, Measure Z in Brentwood had just 39.17% voter support while Measure G in Oakley had just 32.37% support. The public did vote to support moving to an elected fire board with 62.29% support.

Below is a copy of his letter:

Dear Fire Family:

Clearly the citizens of this community can’t get out of their own way. I have multiple emotions over this, from outright anger to total frustration.

East Contra Costa Fire Master Plan Staffing

My sole focus going forward is saving all jobs.

Last night the voters took another step backwards and continued to not understand the lack of resources providing their safety. I am personally extremely disgusted in their actions. I will as your chief secure solutions to maintain all of our personnel, including those in Academy 16-02. Over the next 60 to 90 days there will be discussions between Brentwood, Oakley, the County and the District to maintain all of our personnel.

Each and every one of you personally should hold your head high knowing that you do an outstanding job, day in and day out, even though the public does not recognize the sacrifices you and your family make. As we continue to ride the rollercoaster of voter apathy we must stick together and work as a team even though inside our gut feelings and emotions tear us apart.

As this was the third attempt to go to the public for revenue it is obvious now that they will never understand the danger they are in or the extreme sacrifices you make daily. We have fought our asses off and I truly don’t know what else we could have done to provide further education to the public.

Thank you for your unwavering commitment in these extreme conditions.

Chief Hugh Henderson
Fire Chief, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District



  1. It’s time for Henderson to go. BOTH the fire board and the administration have demonstrated over and over a LACK of leadership and professionalism. They have not done anything right. It’s time for them to STOP blaming the public!

    Figure it out, the problem is not the public, it’s the Board and the Chief. No leadership equals no trust. No trust equals no new revenu.

    Read the writing on the wall. We are done with this exercise.

  2. The blame goes squarely on Supervisor Piepho with the help of Glover. It is time for the county to take responsibility and merge. If our new Supervisor elect is really backed by Fire and Medical service personale, the priority in east county is fixing what Piepho destroyed, ECCFPD !

  3. Henderson needs to go, this letter is an embarassment. The citizens have spoken numerous times, fix your finacial issues and do not just tax your way out of this. This should not be a surprise to anyone, their own consultants told them there was less than 40% support for this measure. The cities of Oakley and Brentwood need to reacclocate the property tax to similar levels as Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and other local cities.

    • Rich,

      The law states here in California that cities, counties and local jurisdictions cannot re-allocate their property tax distributions. This is the law and is not subject to interpretation. Our State law makers know this, local governments know this the Legislative Ana lists office has stated it, and it has been posted many times. Suggesting that it be done on a local level is nothing more than a distraction to any actual and realistic solution.

      The reason is clear and sound. Shuffling tax dollars around at a local level would lead to deficits in other needs. The allocations were set by one body (the state) and can only be re allocated by that body.

      I agree, the latest tax attempt was insulting. (almost as bad as the Benefit Assessment Tax they tried to float the time before). It seems that the original open and transparent tax directly for fire services is the only way to go. An example of this, is the successful fire tax that just passed on this election in a similar fire district (Rodeo-Hercules). It passed by 77 percent.

      It came as no surprise that the utility tax failed as expected. Trying to pass a tax merely because it lowers the threshold to 50 percent plus 1 for passage is insulting.

  4. Memo, do you just make this crap up as you go along or do you have some personal reason for trying to rewrite your own version of history? It’s unfortunate for you, but the historical facts differ greatly from your conjecture. The fact is Brentwood and Oakley were demanding control of the fire district which had been lingering in a state of paralysis for years. While Supervisor Piepho was able to effectively champion a consolidation (a trend which is overwhelmingly popular and efficient) there were in fact many individuals and agencies involved in the process. While you couldn’t begin to defend your perspective, you actually (and conveniently) forget that if not consolidated, we would have less resources and 3 separate fire districts suffering from the same financial situation. That is 3 chiefs, a multitude of asst. Chiefs, three fire boards, and a trio of mismatched equipment, communications and personnel. Didn’t quite think that through now did you?

    Bottom line, the “County” doesn’t owe you a fire department, nor do they have any interest in subsidizing (again) your revenue shortfall. Ours is not a “County” fire department and operates as a independent special district under the health and safety code. Trying to pin blame on the county for an inept fire board who spent down over 10,000,000 (that’s ten MILLION) in financial reserve money handed over in the consolidation, is lame and shows the shallowness of your knowledge. Supervisors Piepho and Glover didn’t reduce the fire stations from 8 down to 3 over the course of a decade. The fire board did. A fire board that has been made up by people like Steve Barr and Bob Taylor, Joel Bryant and Erik StoneBarger. And you wonder why Brentwood owes the State millions. But there you are, doing your best to make Glover and Piepho look responsible for bad decisions made by a decade of poor decisions. The chickens are about to come home to roost….

    Keep making yourself look bad. I’ll chalk it up to your ongoing frustration. Your bumper sticker attacks and blame game didn’t work the first 20 times you tried. I’m sure that Piepho’s sucessor (Burgis) being elected over the Lame Duck Barr (your buddy) has you revisiting your anger issues. Isn’t that right?

    Like I said, we are done with this exercise.

    P.S. In case you are wondering, I’m not your enemy. The truth is.

  5. Hugh Henderson, while a nice man, needs to be shown the door after writing this letter. The fire board members who are appointed by the city council will be shown the door by voters when the time for an election comes.

    Joel Bryant, Steve Barr, Randy Pope who are all elected and serving on this fire board need to be shown the door and ran out of town. 39% and 32%. You all are failures! Never once have they given ECV a chance to come up with a plan and never once have they seriously considered volunteers.

    In the meantime, the residence served by this fire department will suffer, especially in the rural areas.

    • Bobby,

      ECV has no plan. They hide behind an ideal that has no basis in reality. The ECV ideal is to rob Peter to pay Paul. It’s nothing more than a shell game. The reason it sounds appealing to those not looking behind the curtain is that is costs the taxpayer nothing (or so it appears). Selling “free” is easy, dealing with the consequences is not.

      The ECV idea is flawed from the start which is why it has gone nowhere and received such a cold reception from responsible leadership. It fact it is such a non starter, it has largely been ignored. It is also the two individuals that have led that effort who choose to ignore that responsible explanations supplied to them on many occasions by many leaders of why their ideal doesn’t hold water. It’s simple, they do not want to hear it.

      The same can be said about volunteers. We no longer live in a setting that is conducive to a volunteer department. How many times does that need to be stated before it sinks in?

      Once again we are back to someone trying to sell free. Face it, your fire services that you expect are not free. If you want them, you are going to have to pay for them. It’s very simple, but apparently you don’t want to get it. That is your loss and why many of us and the fire department continue to suffer.

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