Discovery Bay Requests Station 59 Stay Open, Be Included in Fire Discussion

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The following letter was sent to the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District from the Town of Discovery Bay urging the District to keep Station 59 open while being included in future discussion on fire service solutions.

The letter, addressed to Board President Joel Bryant, discusses concerns the Town of Discovery Bay has with a potential Station 59 closure if the Board were to re-open the Downtown Brentwood Station (54) to focus on call volume areas and response times.

The letter also requests that the Town of Discovery Bay be included in future discussions as currently, the task force created only includes the City of Brentwood, City of Oakley, Board of Supervisor representatives and fire district stakeholders–the Town of Discovery Bay has not been included.

Here is the text of the letter provided by Town Manager Rick Howard.

Dear President Bryant:

On behalf of the Town of Discovery Bay Board of Directors, it is our strong opinion that the potential
closure of Discovery Bay’s only fire station, fire station #59, is not the answer to East Contra Costa
County Fire Protection District’s (“Fire District”) limited resources. This action would put the entire eastern
portion of the Fire District at grave risk.

The Fire District Board couches its action of focusing its fire protection services in the western region of
the District because the majority of the call volume emanates from that region. However, call volume is
the consequence of eighty-five percent (85%) of the district’s population living in the western portion of
the Fire District. Further, the eighty-five percent (85%) of residents that live in the western region also
receive the added benefit of the mutual aid of the Contra Costa County Fire Department being dispatched
out of Pittsburg and Antioch. Both of these cities are in geographically proximity to the majority of the Fire
District’s population, and in emergency situations are dispatched to assist the Fire District. The remaining
fifteen percent (15%) of the District’s residents, or more than 15,000 lives in the eastern region of the Fire
District will be left without the benefit of efficient response times for critical lifesaving medical response or
presence of District fire protection resources.

Recently, the Contra Costa County Fire chief went on record expressing his dismay with the Fire District’s
decision to downsize its operation to three stations. Citing the excessive amount of resources being sent
to the Fire District compared to the amount of resources received from the Fire District, the Contra Costa
County Fire chief explained that the District may not continue to receive such a response from the County
Fire Department. This is devastating to the more than 15,000 eastern region residents of the District, in
that not only will our own Fire District not be able to respond with sufficient resources, but the residents
are geographically barred from receiving mutual aid.

The closure of the Discovery Bay Fire Station #59 will result in substantial greater response times to the
residents in the eastern region of the District. However, these numbers hide a troubling truth. Response
time statistics reflect only the time it takes the first engine company to get to the scene, not how much
time it takes for all vehicles actually needed to address and reach the emergency. If the District is
focusing its fire protection efforts on the western region of the District, the eastern region is vulnerable to
excessive and unnecessary fire hazards due to the inability of the District to respond effectively to a fire
safety emergency. Fire emergencies are only part of the equation as medical responses and critical
lifesaving calls make up a majority of the emergency calls. With station #59 closed response times will
triple and the ability to respond to a critical lifesaving emergency will be impaired and unnecessarily risk
lives.

While fire hazards also place lives at risk, increased fire hazard is an actuarial nightmare and will place
further pressure on the financial resources of the community. Insurance companies would see the
distance between Discovery Bay and the next closest station (downtown Brentwood) as being outside of
the fire service area, causing rates to skyrocket. Closing station #59 would not only be reckless, it would
be financially devastating to the residents of Discovery Bay. A decision to close a station would only and
unproportionally impact residents in the eastern part of the District.

Centralizing the District’s fire protection and medical response efforts in its western region does not make
strategic sense. Currently, our area of the District is strained to provide the level of service expected by its
residents. By placing all of the District’s resources in its western region, the District is not geographically
positioned to defend the residents of its eastern region. The ire of California’s drought has exacerbated
this danger. Further, with the Contra Costa County Fire Department threatening to discontinue its level of
mutual aid, the eastern region is left to rely solely on District resources. By allowing the Discovery Bay fire
station #59 to remain in service, the District maintains a strategic position to defend the entire District, not
just the residents in the District’s western region.

It is disappointing that the most recent assessment ballot did not pass. The low voter turnout and negative
response is a clear indication of the public’s distrust of local government. Fire departments have the
unique opportunity to engage the community and encourage partnerships, coalitions, and positive
relationships. The District needs help to be successful, and people need reassurance that the Fire District
has their best interest in mind. Discovery Bay remains willing to assist in these decisions.

We respectfully request the District to take our concerns under submission in making its decision to
efficiently and effectively utilize its resources to provide residents with fire and medical protection
services. Discovery Bay remains supportive of the assessment and would like to see the status quo
maintained. The Discovery Bay Board respectfully requests that it be included in further discussions
regarding this matter and requests to be notified prior to any decision that would significantly impact it
residents and assets. A decision made with the entire District’s best interest is a decision that will reap
future rewards. Leaving Discovery Bay’s fire station #59 open is the right decision.

Respectfully submitted,

Chris Steele
Board President
Town of Discovery Bay

Cc: Honorable Supervisor John Gioia, Board of Supervisors, District I
Honorable Supervisor Candace Andersen, Board of Supervisors, District II
Honorable Supervisor Mary N. Piepho, Board of Supervisors, District III
Honorable Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, Board of Supervisors, District IV
Honorable Supervisor Federal D. Glover, Board of Supervisors, District V
Honorable Jim Frazier, Assemblymember 11th Assembly District
Honorable Steve Glazer, State Senator, 7 h Senate District
Lou Ann Texeira, Executive Director, Contra Costa LAFCO
Honorable Mayor Bob Taylor, City of Brentwood
Honorable Mayor Doug Hardcastle, City of Oakley
Gus Vina, City Manager, City of Brentwood
Bryan Montgomery, City Manager, City of Oakley
Hugh Henderson, Chief, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District
1800 Willow Lake Road •Discovery Bay •CA •94505


25 COMMENTS

  1. Are they for real? The task force was formed months ago, meetings have been held and now they want to come to the table when the work is nearly done? They are asleep at the wheel out there other than a single meeting that scared this board out of the right decision to close the station with little call volume. They also could have a rep on the fire board but no one applied. Instead, you have bethel island and the 50 people on Morgan Territory represented. The stations should be where the highest call volume is coming from to protect the most people as possible under this crappy model.

    Sounds to me you want a community included but they do not want to actually put skin in the game. ECT stirring the pot again by posting this.

    • @ Joe

      We are posting the info for our audience to be aware of what is going on and providing a little back story, not sure how we can stir the pot unless we are the ones sending a letter.

      Will agree with you on one thing, if Discovery Bay wants representation, a resident or CSD Director should have been put on the Board when the seats were open for appointment–of course, a County Supervisor (Mary Piepho) can remove Director Kenny or Morgan at anytime.

    • Apparently some of you have not been following recent news.

      Joeduh, a fire fighter I presume? Stations are not placed based on call volume. They are placed based on readiness. I can cite as many examples as you need to see the light, so to speak. But the most obvious one would be Districts with stations at major airports. Think they turn a lot of wheels there or is it a readiness thing? Think San Jose could have better served its District by moving that airport crew during the times they were tight for money and could have used them elsewhere?

      Your proposed station placement would create a massive “haves” and “have nots” District, and put approx 25% of the District into a “no fire service” zone according to ISO standards. That creates the likelihood of a huge financial hit to a significant number of residents of the District which could otherwise be avoided.

      At the same you only marginally improve response times and outcomes for the cities. It becomes a purely selfish exercise that causes more harm than good overall.

      Here’s a simple math factoid for you. There are 9 board members. Sitting 1 resident or CSD member from Discovery Bay within that group solves nothing. They would repeatedly get steamrolled by the cities majority representation. That’s not speculation. That’s fact based on 5 years of history. Unless you have objective and unbiased people taking up the majority those seats it doesn’t work as a governing body.

      It’s a fire DISTRICT. Not the Brentwood FD or the Oakley FD. It’s long past time some of you accepted that.

      Everyone seems to have forgotten how the task force came to be. It was a Brentwood City Council idea. Not the fire boards, not the County’s and not Discovery Bay’s.

      Brentwood and then Oakley both had city council meetings shortly after the latest round of closures and decided to throw this task force idea against the wall. For quite some time they didn’t even reach out to anyone to represent the unincorporated areas of the District. Nobody, at any time, decided it was prudent to reach out to the only unincorporated governing body with a significant stake in the issue.

      So how is it the CSD’s fault that they were not invited to the party?

      • So you brought up an example of the San Jose FD at the airport. That is a federal mandate that all airports that have heavy aircraft have an ready status FD response team for critical situations. Last time I looked Discovery Bay did not have an airport so you are comparing Apples to Oranges. It is obvious that you do live in Discovery Bay one of 13,300 people This is a little more then a third the population of Oakley and less then a quarter if Brentwood. You place emergency response teams where they are going to be most effective and having only 3 stations open someone is going to get the short end of the stick. When Chicago was closing down houses they looked at where the need was and redrew the boundaries. Well when you have 2 houses that are the primary support for a population of 93,000 people and a House that is the primary support for 13,300 you lose they should move it where is can reach the most people in the fastest amount of time. You also have to look at where Station 59 is mostly reporting to, Time causes more damage distance costs more money in fuel.

        If you do not like this move some place else because you are being foolish to think anything different.

        • That’s both disturbing to read and a little too inside baseball with the commentary.

          Apparently fire fighters are taking the hardline stance that they will force their desires over the safety of the public they serve? You really think “move someplace else” helps your image?

          This is a District with 110k residents in it. Not 93k. Part of the larger problem all along has been a lack of team player and District vision. It’s not the Oakley fire department. The sooner you stop viewing or attempting the form it as such the better.

          By the way, the NFPA doesn’t happen to agree with your mitigating criteria analysis in placement of assets(NFPA 1710, 2004). You made some vague Chicago reference, so right backatcha:

          http://www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo44280.pdf

          I sincerely hope your post isn’t indicative of the level of research and study the ad hoc is moving forward. You guys will get buried in a legal action with that kind of sloppiness and lack of proper analysis.

          Which, if you weren’t reading between the lines, was the heads up the CSD was giving you in the letter.

        • Now that just took first place for the dumbest post of the week.

          Obviously you don’t know the first thing about the operational priorities of a fire district. SMH

        • Actually you are partially incorrect, Discovery Bay does not have an airport however Byron does and the Discovery Bay station serves that airport.

  2. This fire board is a failure. Along with a vote of no confidence on its chief, they should take one on the entire board. For all the talk there is little action and when there is action, they forget to cross their T’s and dot their I’s. Bring back volunteers and POC if the District cannot get its act together as that may not please some people on this page, but it would sure give firefighters some help around the stations.

    This is the first I’ve heard Discovery Bay was not included in this task force, this was a major error and oversight that just can’t happen and should not happen. It shows there is no leadership.

    I can see Discovery Bay’s position, but anyone with a brain knows you put engines where all the people are located and most of the calls occur.

  3. If you want to fault someone for not putting a Discovery Bay person on the board look at Mary Piepho. As a supervisor SHE should have seen her own community was represented one would think.

    • Julio, Yours is the most clueless comment I’ve read on this topic. You really need to get a clue.

      • B-wood: I have seen Mary work this type of thing and maneuver people to get on the board or what ever. I know she could have found someone had she wanted to. She is a clever woman. I know they have to run, she doesn’t appoint them.

    • You can’t fault a Board of Supervisor if no one from Discovery Bay applies or wants the seat.

  4. I can appreciate not wanting to pay more taxes than you have to. It is the highest libertarian principals to take ownership for ones own survival. I am confused as to why there are communities here who seem intent on receiving services they chose not to pay for. Representatives want a seat at the table to carve up the last remaining bits of whats left. Your communities have voted time and time again to dismantle your public services by not funding them.
    If it’s true that public services are not a social right than your community is exactly where it needs to be.
    If you feel you expect more from the community that you live in than a “save yourself” paradigm then pay for what you want.

  5. I can understand discovery bay’s concerns. The few must concede to the many. The cities have 100,000 people and discovery bay has 15,000. With only three engines, that would mean the district can’t even cover the cities. Brentwood should have two stations. As far as representation is concerned, discovery bay has the most representation of all east county. A CSD has no merit on fire services. They should stick to sewer concerns. Supervisor Piepho has been a part of the meetings since day one. Her choice to ignore the fire issue is sad. The CSD should pressure the supervisor to represent discovery bay better. Kind of like her husbands comment, ” let them feel the pain”

    • JS,

      Nice try bud.

      There isn’t a single fact in your entire post.

      Who are you trying to fool?

      It’s not working.

  6. Eddie, Discovery Bay pay more person into the fire district than Oakley or Beentwood. I’ll wager you weren’t aware of that little factoid,,,,,,

  7. “Move the chairs to the other side of the ship” said the Captain of the Titanic, ” it will give us more time for a great view before the whole ship is under water”

    Come up with solutions to fix the problem. 3 stations put all communities at risk!

    • Mr. Wells with all due respect,
      There have been over a half dozen solutions for this problem. Your union and/or the current civic leaders choose to ignore these solutions. You are correct that 3 stations place the entire far east county at risk. This needs to be the focus of the peoples attention when not if but when lives and/or property is lost due to your union and/or the current civic leaders continued ignorance of those half dozen solutions.

      • FF “supporter”,

        With all due respect, what half dozen solutions are you referring to exactly?

        I’ll bet you are confusing “opinions” for solutions again.

        Once an opinion has been heard, vetted or rejected (often due to lack of merit) it is dismissed. You really need to get past the fact that you are not a policy maker (Nor is Mr. Wells or the Union).

        The “civic” leaders are not ignoring you and your suggestions, they just don’t agree with you. It’s their right and their prerogative.

        If you don’t see this for what it is, then you are the one who displays “continued ignorance”.

        It’s pretty simple.

  8. I love it. Feel the pain is now a regular quote. Some commenters from Discovery Bay have stated that we are not entitled to fire service. It is not a right. Well Discovery Bay you can own it. Feel the pain and don’t be entitled. Close that station and move it to the real populated area of Brentwood. We pay more and deserve more. If people look at the results of the fire tax they will see Brentwood was the only majority vote. Discovery Bay turned it down. The representative of discovery bay has always been a part of discussions and welcomed at meetings. Her name is Honorable Supervisor Mary Piepho. She has several staff people who also could attend and have attended. The letter is a joke.

  9. Mr. Wells,

    I agree with you entirely.

    If the County would compensate the district for the EMS services currently being provided on behalf of the County then the district would have funds to properly staff both the fire protection services AND the EMS.

    Can you lobby the County for more funds to pay your firefighters who provide the bulk of BLS and EMS in East County?

    Thank you for your service and candor.

  10. To cover the most area, back up the most population and engines the quickest, reach Bethel Island, and be centrally located is obvious.The Knightsen Station is the logical location for equal back up to everywhere. located a pretty even distance from all populated areas, it is the best. Let the politics Trump (pun yes) the
    common sense.

  11. What is needed is an Assistant Fire Chief ? This is a consideration with only three stations? What the f.. are these idiots thinking? Is this the solution or just more politics? Pay attention people here comes another run at your wallet.

Comments are closed.