Smith: Brentwood Should Place Utility Tax on November Ballot


Stephen Smith, a Brentwood resident and former East Contra Costa Fire protection District Board Member has provided us with his commentary from Tuesdays City Council meeting and asked us to publish them.

Here is his text:

Stephen Smith

Some time just prior to 3:28 PM on Saturday, there was an explosion in a storage shed to the rear of the residence at 29 Sycamore Drive here in Brentwood.  For reference, Google Maps shows 29 Sycamore as 6/10 of a mile from our closed Station 54, with a 3 minute drive time. 

At 3:29:39 Engines 52, 93, 59, CALFIRE 1676, and CONFIRE 88 were dispatched.  Battalion Chief Burris arrived in 2 minutes 11 seconds and found a fully involved shed already threatening the main house.  Engine 52 arrived in 7 minutes and 54 seconds, Engine 93 in 9 minutes and 16 seconds, Engine 59 in 10 minutes and 34 seconds, and Engine 88 in 8 minutes and 56 seconds. 

Engine 1676 never made it all; as a state resource, it was diverted to the 40-acre vegetation fire on Evora Road.  Engine 82 was dispatched as a replacement, and arrived in 19 minutes and 45 seconds after the initial engines were dispatched, completing the necessary first alarm response. 

The Incident Commander asked for one additional engine on Mutual Aid; CONFIRE could not spare any, so Tracy Fire sent the Mountain House engine.  This was later canceled. 

An interior attack was begun, hampered by ammunition cooking off in the shed and electrical lines down in the back yard.  Vertical ventilation was not started until 3:53, over 23 minutes after initial dispatch.  When the roof was opened, heavy fire came through. 

By 4:01 crews were withdrawn from the interior and roof and all went defensive.  Just before 4:48 CONFIRE had to recall their two engines to the 3-alarm multiple structure fire in Antioch.  This left our three engines to deal with the situation and they stayed until after 10 P.M. 

The rest of the district was uncovered, with any medical problems getting an ambulance-only response regardless of severity.  One Firefighter suffered heat exhaustion, and was transported to hospital, and a Police Officer was treated on scene.  What started as a backyard shed fire resulted in the total loss of the house.

I feel that this cannot continue.  Knowing each of you, I believe you share that feeling.  The question now is what to do?

ECCFPD-Polling-UUTWhile the Task Force polling results are discouraging, we need to look more carefully at the situation.  I appreciate the struggle Gus has had herding this particular group of cats, which has resulted in serious delays in the education campaign.  The most costly delay resulted in the release of the UUT plan and the second Peak Democracy module only a week before polling started. 

Voter confusion greatly increases the likelihood of a “No” response.  I attended the presentation at Trilogy, and have heard that the response at other presentations has had the same result; when we get a chance to better explain the UUT option, it is accepted much more readily.

I acknowledge that Brentwood must now turn to protecting its own residents regardless of what the other two entities choose to do.  The question becomes one of approach.  I believe the Task Force plan suggests our best option. 

Brentwood should put its own UUT proposal on the ballot, with a goal of eventually having the four Brentwood stations envisioned in the Master Plan.  Brentwood and the District can work on their own Memorandum of Understanding regarding the use of funds.  This also avoids the political tangle that would result from Brentwood attempting to withdraw from the District and set up its own—far more costly—Fire Department.  Trying to go it alone could conceivably result in Brentwood residents being double taxed to support both Departments.

This would require a Brentwood-only advocacy campaign, which I feel can be won even starting from the current poll results.  Brentwood residents appreciate the need for better Fire Service, and previous results show this.  This  advocacy campaign would be able to address itself to a more cohesive community at a lower cost that a District-wide advocacy campaign.  We need to start now.

By Stephen Smith
Brentwood resident



  1. As some not from Brentwood. I am all for this. I welcome residents of Brentwood providing the funding for 3 additional stations onto the system. Less I have to pay and get increased services. Thanks Brentwood!

  2. Just reinforces why Steve Smith is no longer on the board. He was dillusiional when he was on the board and apparently nothing has changed. What is with the fire board anyway? How and why does it attract individuals that bask in denial?

    Delays? Educational campaign? This is another rerun, and they have done nothing different. There was no educational campaign. The fact is we the people have lost all trust in the fire boards ability to run this district. That’s right, DISTRICT”. Now these buffoons want to feed us more BS by trying to tell us things will work out if only Brentwood passes a tax? WTF are they smoking?

    This is right to the core of their problem. They are once again insulting our intelligence. Pissing on us and telling us it’s just raining is what lost them our confidence.

    Stop wasting our money and our time. Start listening. No utility tax!!!!

  3. The storage shed in my neighbors yard that caught on fire was “stocked full of ammunition” and a resident of the house said the “explosion sounds were bombs going off” Perhaps these are concerns that should be addressed as well! Just saying!

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