Home Brentwood Early Morning Barn Fire Ties Up ECCFPD Resources

Early Morning Barn Fire Ties Up ECCFPD Resources

by ECT

diablo lane fire 2

East Contra Costa Fire Protection District crews responded to a structure fire on Diablo Lane in unincorporated Brentwood this morning around 6:00 am that destroyed a barn.

The call came in around 6:15 with Engine 94 arriving at 6:15 to a fully involved barn with nearby structures being threatened. Crews were able to prevent the spread of this fire and it was under control by 6:49—luckily only the barn was destroyed.

This fire had a response of all of our district engines and Engine 88 from Antioch was also called, but was cancelled on route. Since the district had minimal coverage as our resources were tied up with the barn fire, CALFIRE moved up from the Sunshine Station to Station 52 to cover calls within the District.

No word yet on the cause of this fire.

Editors Note:
Downtown Brentwood’s station re-opening tomorrow could not come at a better time as this is now the second incident in a week which all of our engines have been on a single call and required assistance from CONFIRE.

diablo lane fire 1

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Disco Mike Apr 29, 2013 - 9:43 am

Hope people are paying attention because the fire in Discovery Bay was a nightmare for us and now it happend a little closer to Brentwood where people might start caring. Lets say a car accident happened at that same time, then what? You would be waiting for help. Lets get these guys some help.

FrankS Apr 29, 2013 - 9:46 am

Saw the smoke and was wondering what was going on. Glad it was a barn and not a home

JimSimmons42 Apr 29, 2013 - 10:39 am

Again, ECCFPD using CONFIRE resources. Time to cut off the blank check

Steve Smith Apr 29, 2013 - 12:47 pm

That is an appalling attitude. All districts in Contra Costa County support each other. We do receive aid on a three- or four-to-one ratio from/to CONFIRE, which no one on the Board feels good about. Reopening Station 54 on Wednesday will help with balance.

I was listening this morning to a transformer explosion and grass fire situation in Rossmoor. CONFIRE does not have a lot of wildland fire units, so they were receiving aid from both Moraga-Orinda and San Ramon Valley Fire Protection Districts. That’s the way it works, and we are *all* the better and safer for it.

Sheldon Apr 29, 2013 - 6:48 pm

Actually at a 4 to 1 or even a 3 to 1 ratio we are wearing out our welcome. While this is everyone’s problem, Con Fire is subsidizing ECCFPD. “Gifting of public funds” is illegal and while exceptions are made for auto/mutual aid it is exclusively permitted when there is balance. In this situation it is not.

This cannot continue and you would be a fool for believing that it will. It’s only a matter of time.

Steve Smith Apr 29, 2013 - 8:31 pm

One of the most powerful political motivations going is the avoidance of embarrassment. Its a lousy way to make policy, but there it is.

Who constitutes the CONFIRE Board of Directors? The County Supervisors.
Who created ECCFPD out of three Fire Districts that seemed to be functioning? (I was not an East County resident at the time, so I rely on others for the history)
The County Supervisors.

As CONFIRE has felt its own fiscal pressures, they have already cut back some aspects of aid to ECCFPD. They will no longer cover ECCFPD stations automatically when all ECCFPD units are committed, but will wait for actual emergency calls.

I am also impressed at the efforts the “boots on the ground” will make to avoid wasting resources. As Burk rightly points out, once Incident Command decided four engines and water tenders would be enough, E188 was canceled enroute. This happens a great deal as I listen to CONFIRE dispatch radio feeds. covering the whole County except for SRVFPD and the City of Richmond. Police, Fire, and EMS work together constantly to prevent overuse of each other’s resources, as well at back each other up.

Lastly, ECCFPD does pay its way to CONFIRE for all other services, such as Disptach, Investigation, etc.

Barbara DuMont Apr 29, 2013 - 8:46 pm

One thing that you didn’t point out that there were many studies and reports done during the period of time that the Board of Supers were responsible for our fire protection. Every single report going back 20+ years showed that the ONLY way that a professional fire dept could function was with an additional tax. But due to the politics and the make up of the county BOS, they never acted on it, they discussed it and tabled it. Now that they turned control back over to the locals (yes before they started combining dept., there was local control), we have to fix the neglect of the BOS. And based on some of the comments posted here (see below), people still don’t understand that a fire dept is like insurance, when you need it, its too late to purchase it.

Steve–don’t get discouraged. Some of us do get it!

JigsUp Apr 30, 2013 - 8:54 am

“Seemed to be functioning”?

Steve, please list for us the fire districts that “were functioning” and would be doing so in 2013. I’m talking stand alone, not faced with budget cuts. If your answer is the volunteer program, please go to the back of the room. Volunteer does not work for this now suburban fire district model.

If you are banking on the idea that CONFIRE will indefinitely provide services, be it auto aid or mutual aid at no cost, think again. Mutual aid may be provided by agreement. But it does not have to be provided free. Ask Richmond how big of a bill then send CONFIRE for that service. The district you sit on doesn’t have the money to pay that kind of bill.

The failure here was with local officials who in the late 1970s were approached during the creation of tax rate areas(TRA). Much like Vasco Road, the local dokal mentality got the best of them. They were still thinking like rural farmers who were going to keep out growth by limiting services or resource money for them. They acted accordingly and set a TRA rate that was too low for any future growth. Prop 13 then locked it in.

Since that time there has been no appetite to fix it at the ballot box. The BoS recognizes that trying to sell the fix from Martinez is pointless. Hence the handoff to local officials to promote it from here.

So explain to me again how that’s the fault of the BoS. Maybe you should instead be looking at the people who set the TRA rate 35 years ago.

ECVsBrother Apr 29, 2013 - 7:34 pm

The sky didn’t fall last year or the year before. Stop with the scare tactics. We all share services when in need. That’s how the public system is set up. Ask the congress about sharing for all government. They do it every day.

JigsUp Apr 30, 2013 - 9:07 am

For that show of ignorance, what do you say we assign you personally shared resources with Fresno? No big deal, right?

The people in your neighboring fire district were smart enough to structure their district funding so that it is at least closer to providing adequate service than that mess you’ve got. So what’s with the handout mentality? How about you instead fix your broken funding system and become self sustaining instead of relying on others?

Don’t go to your tired scam about raiding the EMS fund either. The “M” stands for medical, if you still can’t figure it out. You can’t used medical funding for fire suppression. It’s against the law.

Barbara DuMont Apr 30, 2013 - 10:45 am

@Jigsup–when the BOS took over the local depts it was with the intent to make it a professional dept. It wasn’t a nice take over either, they just did it over the protests of all the local volunteers and citizens. You see, some of the depts had money others didn’t. So they combined them so that the money would be “shared”. The howls of rage from Discovery Bay still echo over the money grab to fund Brentwood’s fire protection when East Diablo was formed up. This was during the time that Brentwood was the fastest growing city in the state. So why do we blame the BOS??? Their complete inaction over the known funding issue. They “passed the buck” but kept on approving developments, just like Brentwood and now Oakley. And when it came clear that the money was gone and something had to been done to fund this mess, they dumped it back to local control. So now we, the local, are back where were started but in a much worse fix. More people demanding a much higher level of service and not willing to pay for it.

JigsUp Apr 30, 2013 - 2:55 pm

So we’re back to protecting volunteer departments. Are we going to advance as a department or go all the way back to horse drawn steam pumpers? You can’t discuss funding a volunteer fire department on an equal plane with funding of a 24/7 professional department. It’s two entirely different things.

You just faulted the BoS for suggested over growth of Brentwood and Oakley. You want to rethink that one?

How about instead we identify the growth that the BoS actually has approved since the passage of Prop 13 so we are properly assessing blame?

How much have they approved in East County since 1978?

Barbara DuMont Apr 30, 2013 - 7:46 pm

I don’t see where I am protecting the volunteer depts. I have a very deep respect for those volunteers and what they did for this community and I understand the bitter feelings that these men have over this issue and the way they were treated. I said that the intention of the BOS was to create a professional dept. And they did but didn’t deal with the funding. As to the growth–I faulted all three governments that approve developments-the county, Brentwood and now Oakley.

JigsUp Apr 30, 2013 - 8:18 pm

Again I ask you; how much development has the County approved in East County since 1978?

This blame Martinez thing is a blind talking point that has no basis in fact. It’s a cop out that was propagated by the shallow thinkers and the butt hurt types who can’t get over the fact this isn’t the 1970s and a rural area anymore.

Growth isn’t the source of the funding shortage. You would have less money and the same geographic area to cover today. It’s the flawed formulas at the root trying to keep up with runaway overhead costs. The County can’t control that formula once it was set in place. Only through a) A legislative effort in Sacramento or b) A parcel tax like the one just rejected could one have altered the path this took.

ECVsBrother May 2, 2013 - 7:07 pm

Again Barbara you are spot on. Jigs has to be another drinker at the public well.

B-Wood May 2, 2013 - 11:03 pm

@ ECV Brother,

Barbara and Jigs speak well for the fire department and the issues. Don’t kid yourself…You do not. You simply provide insight at what a dysfunctional thinker contemplates. I have no doubt you barely function at an adult level.

I don’t see you addressing any of the points that Jigs raised. What I (and I’m sure others see) is your desperate attempts and frustration at grappling with reality. you are the shallow thinker that Jigs is referring to, and you fail to grasp that. No worries…we are all aware of your shortcomings.

How sad.

EVCsBrother May 2, 2013 - 7:04 pm

Barbara, you make more sense than most of these extremists on here. It is nice to know that there are still people who see it for what it really is. I like jigsup comment about medical funding. It makes me laugh because everyone that knows anything about the fire district knows eighty percent of the calls are for medicals. His kind of thinking makes the politicians smile all the way to the next tax.

B-Wood May 2, 2013 - 10:57 pm

@ EVC Brother,

“His kind of thinking”? You mean reality? Dude, you are making yourself look like a backseat rider on the short bus. You really should consider keeping your opinion to yourself and loosening that tin foil hat of yours off a notch. Just sayin’


JigsUp May 3, 2013 - 12:18 am

This is the typical response one would expect from the CoCoTax kool-aid drinking crowd.

Since personnel costs are far and away the largest expense to the fire district, explain how leaving the fire fighters in station saves money. Do you think they get paid by the call or something? You are saving the cost of fuel and some wear and tear on an engine. The flip side is giving up those medical responses will cost lives. But that’s a little inconvenient fact you like to leave out, isn’t it?

Use the just reported Vasco Rd call for an example. You roll an engine. The engine gets on scene. The car catches fire. Now had only AMR rolled to that a)what if an extraction were required or b)what do they do when that car fire then explodes into a grass fire?

Thanks for making it clear, once again, that the tightwads at CoCoTax are willing to make human and property sacrifices in order to save a buck. Boil the BS away and that really is where the rubber meets the road here.

Fire department funding is about readiness and having personnel in station and available for the shortest response time possible. The problem with the logic challenged individuals like ECVB is they think the department costs are determined by the numbering of calls they roll on. Medicals yeah or nay impact less than 5% of a station budget. Inconsequential when it comes to filling a multi million dollar budget deficit. You still have to pay the fire fighters whether you use them for those medicals or not. The district already receives compensation for that incremental cost, despite the fact that the resident board rep doesn’t have much of a handle on the fact.

Another wasted exchange with this common sense challenged taxpayer group of fiscal illiterates. Has anyone ever seen a plan or even ballpark numbers for the supposed cost savings from these people? Even when their Director constantly boasts about claimed professional know how and financial skills? I’m not convinced the lady could balance a checkbook based on her actions and total lack of fiscal substance or “plan” on this topic. All we get is cheap and pointless rhetoric from her and the minimum wage foot soldiers who troll this blog.

Steve Smith Apr 30, 2013 - 11:17 am

The three predecessor districts were East Diablo (The largest,, including Brentwood,, Discovery Bay, Byron, and Morgan Territory), Oakley/Knghtsen, and Bethel Island. Between them there was a mix of service types, including Paid-on-call and Volunteer. There are still those who feel very strongly that they were getting the job done, but I have no interest in continuing that argument, especially with an anonymous poster. Incidentally, there was a fourth East County district, Riverview, serving Antioch and Pittsburg until it was merged with CONFIRE as the current Battalion 8.

In the 1970’s, East County was rural and agricultural. The only incorporated city east of Antioch was Brentwood. I find the argument that the Brentwood City Council and the County Board of Supervisors in the 1970’s should have foreseen the growth of far East County in the late 1990’s to the present day unpersuasive at best. I find the argument that they should have boosted tax rates in the ferment leading up to Prop 13 ludicrous.

I personally feel that the full marginal incremental fixed costs to Fire Districts for providing EMS services (Paramedic Increment to Base Pay, medical equipment and supplies, EMS training, and ECCFPD quarters supplied for AMS QRV personnel) should be paid out of the EMS budget, so that property taxes can then fund fire suppression more more adequately. I expect to be advocating that position in the comprehensive review of EMS just getting started.

I can’t figure out the point being made in the sentence about Richmond. They maintain their own Fire Department, and a joint Dispatch center with Richmond Police.

I first got involved in ECCFPD matters in 2006, during the public workshops during the preparation of the CityGate report. I am now seeking to make ECCFPD as it stands today a workable professional district.. That includes additional revenue, and I will do all I can at the appropriate time.

ECVsBrother May 2, 2013 - 7:35 pm

Steve, you seem to have a very good hold on things for only going back to 2006. For the protectors of the supervisors, l like all permits, the Fire Marshall needs to sign off on them. In this case the Fire Marshall was and is an employee of the County Supervisors. That takes care of the jigs logic about approving anything. To see a great example of looking ahead, see Antioch for an example. Notice Antiochs foresight. One is the example Steve mentioned. Riverview merged with ConFire. Another great example of looking ahead is their waterslide park district that is overflowing with cash. Why ?, because they enacted a parcel tax before allowing the development. The Antioch School District did similar when enacting Mello Roos before its major growth. That district is also flush with cash. So as the burkman says that’s the way I see it, I’m calling it that’s the way I see it. The ECCF district has some very great possibilities without volunteers or with it doesn’t matter. To take the district to the next level is to stand up and demand medical response funds from the county. This is where Piepho should be the leader of this inequity. If she can stick her nose in the schools, then she should help make right the fire district. My guess is she will play the you wanted it card, so you deal with it. I have little to no faith in her on this one. Steve, you may be onto the savior of the district if you can gather support demanding the county pay the medical bills. Its only fair.

B-Wood May 2, 2013 - 11:36 pm

@ ECV Brother,

Now that post was truly entertaining. Hope you didn’t spend too much time on it. Nothing you posted makes any sense nor would it pass muster. Big surprise! Jigs corrected Steve but you casually dismiss the reality of the situation…how freaking ironic!

The fire Marshall is an employee of the Supervisors? Yeah right, if that’s the way it works in your peanut sized brain! …and yeah Antioch’s funding is a beacon of light….a example that we all should be aspiring to. Yeah, they are flush with cash! Lol!!! Mello Roos? You really typed that with a straight face? Someone needs a straight jacket.

“Take the district to the next level”? Isn’t that what the BOS started and the parcel tax was for? Or was that also over your head?

You are calling it the way you see it? Thank Gawwwd your opinion is limited to just entertaining the readers here. Lets see what happens when someone “demands” funds from the county for a service they are already providing. Let us all know how that works out for you!

Ever think of talking to the fire chief? The supervisor? The EMS director…you know, the people that make the decisions? Or have they brushed you under the carpet? It’s no wonder that you are left to venting your frustrations here.

I hope Steve is already figuring it out, the rest of us have, but apparently you haven’t a clue.

Good luck with the demands!

Please keep it coming. No one could possibly make this up as fast or as well as you do!!!

P.S. Thanks to “Jigs” Burk and Barbara for putting out credible information. The citizens of Brentwood, Oakley and east county will figure it out….eventually. Keep up the good work and fighting the good fight.

CJ McMahon May 2, 2013 - 8:46 am

Regardless, we are extremely fortunate that the resouces were available to handle our fire. Without , the outcome far worse. If this was our home, this group would have saved our family from ruin. Without, a disaster . Thank you again for your quick response. Thank you again. Some day it may happen to you, which do you prefer ?

JigsUp May 2, 2013 - 12:34 pm

Thanks for the history recap there Steve, but by your own admission you are a transplant to the area. Just like me. But where you don’t get a pas is boasting that you’ve been on this since 2006. That leaves no excuse for some of the misinformation and ignorance shown here.
You don’t get to cherry pick facts. If you want to point out districts were “gtting the job done,” but then fail to note those are volunteer districts operating with volunteer budgets, then you’re not having an honest discussion. Do you want to go backwards or do you want to modernize the existing 24/7 professional fire department? Maybe answer that question for yourself so you don’t fall into the trap again.
As for your suggestion no one could have foreseen needs, then explain why the unincorporated areas have higher contribution rates than the cities of East County? Still you try to fault the Supes? A little inconsistency in your argument there?
This wasn’t about boosting tax rates, per se. It’s about telling the County how much of the 1% ad valorem pie you think your fire department needs. Perhaps you don’t have a good grasp of the formation of tax rate areas under Prop 13? Other incorporated areas of the County did not make the mistake made in East County. Again that doesn’t support your angle, does it?
Where you really went off the rails was the incremental EMS thing. Holy smokes, shouldn’t you have a little better handle on what your incremental costs are before launching into some campaign to put the screws to AMR for money? Do you know how much Measure H money you are receiving already and how well (or not) that is covering your incremental costs? Wouldn’t that be a common sense prerequisite piece of information to have? From the stuff I read in the papers, your collective group doesn’t even know the value of services AMR is providing you. Services provided at no cost, btw. But your thinking you are in some command position to dictate terms?
I think you pulled a bad poker bluff and got called.
Richmond Bills ConFire for auto-aid services. That’s what I mean by the comment. The same scenario has played out in East County before, thought I don’t recall what district was billing each other. But as a Director, shouldn’t you be aware of the history and current event information? Since you are relying heavily on ConFire to keep your neighborhood from going up in flames, wouldn’t it behoove you to know if your going to get a bill for it later?
Richmond bills ConFire for auto-aid services. That’s what I mean by the comment. That same scenario has played out in East County before, though I don’t recall which district was billing which other. But as a Director, shouldn’t you be aware of that history and current event information? Since you are relying heavily on ConFire to keep you neighborhood from going up in flames, wouldn’t it behoove you to know if you’re going to get a bill for it later?
The Supes are a Board of Directors by default, absent an alternative. That is according to fire code. I fail to see how them trying to modernize East County and bring professional services to the area, a marked improvement over all volunteer, is reason to now be chastised for it. You and your friends in Brentwood lobbied for 6 years for local control. The Supes handed that to you with a 6 million reserve. All that’s happened since is the reserve has evaporated and you guys are arguing over who tries to shake down whom to patch up your flawed tax rate area formula. Maybe should could consider spending more time educating away some of the ignorance amongst your constituency? Not to mention a couple of Board members.
I don’t attend the fire meetings. But this little exchange has been an enlightening one for me. I can now see at least partially who is drinking the kool-aid with this billing AMR stuff thinking that is the solution to your budget deficit. Is there anyone on that Board who can do a little homework in advance of trying to row uphill?
Hey, if shoot the messenger is the best you’ve got when confronted with the facts, why don’t you pedal on over to a LAFCO meeting? Or call your Supervisor? I think 15 minutes spent with either of those representatives would probably save you months of chasing phantom solutions like believing EMS is some money tree you’re going to harvest to fix your problem.
Steve, if you think a 35 year forward looking vision for properly funding government services is ludicrous, you will probably die laughing when reading Paul Burgarino’s piece yesterday. The one where he talks about proposed Highway 239. 50 years in the planning. Nobody in government looks that far down the road, remember? Or you could look at the East County subsidy of BART if you’re still not sure there is any long term vision.

ECV May 2, 2013 - 2:05 pm

OMG! Is that correct…the BOS handed over the district with 6 million dollars in reserves only to be run down by the new board??? If this is true, then a few people on this board need to eat some crow. Funny how they were so quick to jump on the BOS and others when in fact the new directors are mostly to blame. Wow.

I think Mr. Smith needs to do his homework next time around. Especially after posting; “One of the most powerful political motivations going is the avoidance of embarrassment. It’s a lousy way to make policy, but there it is.”

Looks like Smith needs to do a little damage control and meet with the BOS, LAFCO or Mary Piepho before embarrassing himself any further. I wouldn’t be surprised if next he claims he is a “French model”. You know if you read it on the internet it must be true.


B-Wood May 3, 2013 - 10:01 am

Thanks for the information JigsUp. Very interesting and good to know.

Sheldon May 3, 2013 - 9:34 am

Steve Smith,

Jigs has brought up many valid points which I have been able to verify through communication with the county. You talk a good game but your opinions are far from fact and in most cases don’t apply. Especially the ones regarding EMS and historical perspective. The 6 million dollar elephant in the room is still standing. I take it, like many of us, you had no idea that the county BOS handed over the fire district with very healthy financial reserves, only to watch them dwindle away at the hands of the new board.

While the board was busy rearranging deck chairs, the Titanic (or in the case of ECCFPD, the SS Minnow) began to sink. Under the new board, people were layed off and many stations closed. If there is “blame” it certainly does not belong to the Board of Supervisors and I found your comments to be disingenuous.

“One of the most powerful political motivations going is the avoidance of embarrassment. Its a lousy way to make policy, but there it is.” -Steve Smith

Currently, I see the same “inaction” by the fire board. What little energy is being displayed is nothing more than wheel spinning. The clock continues to tick, the days of the grant are already running out. The district needs revenue which won’t happen without some type of assesment or tax. The effort should have started months ago and be in full swing by now. Sadly it is not.

The question is; Are you going to waste more time chasing down non applicable EMS dollars, or use your energy to kick start the board into gear? If additional funding is needed, then the need to educate the public correctly starts now. It may already be too late and you are running out of people to blame.

Your sudden silence is deafening.

Steve Smith May 3, 2013 - 1:45 pm

The County Board of Supervisors formed the ECCFPD in September of 2002, to be governed by (drum roll, please) themselves. The locally-appointed Board was sworn in on Febuary 3, 2010. I myself was sworn in on January 7, 2013.

Nothing was done by the BOS to address ongoing operational funding other than the formation of a CSD for the Shadow Lakes subdivision which has a yearly per-parcel assessment which can be used for either capital or operational expenses. ECCFPD is almost completely dependent on property tax revenue.

I have never advocated a return to a volunteer fire department, or the split up of the District, or any of the other straw men attributed to me by others. We on the Board are all working to continue with a workable professional fire service.

By the time of the 2006 CityGate report, it was apparent that a full professional-level model with 10 Stations, 3 firefighters on all engines, and advanced life support (paramedics) would require substantial new taxes, on the order of $250 per parcel. Movement toward a local Fire Board began then, but it took 3 1/2 years to put in place.

The drawdown in reserves began with the 2008/2009 budget passed by the BOS. JigsUp is correct that as of June 30, 2009 the reserve balance was around $6.74 million. This was the starting point for the 2009/2010 budget passed by the BOS. That budget called for a operational DEFECIT of around $1.35 million.

The first budget considered by the local Board was the 2010/2011 budget. It started with a fund balance of about $5.39 million. By this time all Fire Districts so situated, (including CONFIRE) were being caught between rapidly escalating Pension, OPEB, and Medical costs and deteriorating property tax revenue. The preliminary budget showed a deficit of about $2.96 million, or around 55% of the reserve. The local Board ordered a review of alternative service models, finally decided to close two stations and drop employee headcount, and passed a final budget with a operating deficit of $1.86 million, and set about the task of seeking new revenue. The two stations selected for closure were downtown Discovery Bay and Byron.

Far East County has been hit far worse by the collapse in assessed valuations than the more settled parts of the county. CONFIRE’s butdet held out for another year, but their 2011/2012 budget called for the disbanding of two companies, each in a two-company station. Their 2012/2013 budget resulted in the closure of of four stations, including Station 11 (Clayton) which impacts our Marsh Creek/Morgan Territory coverage. The 2013/2014 budget calls for two more station closures, one of which everyone expects to be Station 87 (Pittsburg). The second could also be in the Antioch/Pittsburg area.

Finally, there is the question of EMS. EMS is not a policy originated by the Fire Districts, but is a countywide policy under the Board of Supervisors. It is also not limited to property tax funding like a Fire District. Given the relative funding structures, the stress on the Fire Districts, and the nature of the EMS service, I feel that the EMS review should look at a different allocation of the costs, as well as the EMS service model. It is a policy goal of the BOS that all serious medical emergencies be attended by two Paramedics. In most areas, the expectation is that one will arrive on a Fire engine, and one with the ambulance. ECCFPD is still a non-paramedic district, so AMR provides two QRV’s (Single Paramedic in a SUV) which are housed in ECCFPD stations.
I believe that EMS, with it’s more broadly-based funding, should cover the true incremental costs to the Fire Districts for their participation. $30K per Paramedic Engine doesn’t begin to cover the real costs.

Not all 911 EMS calls result in the dispatch of a fire engine. The Dispatchers have a whole medical protocol to determine which medical calls are likely serious and time-critical (Stroke, Heart Attacks, serious Trauma, etc.). With AMR now having vehicle locator systems in their ambulances, plus positioning ambulances according to computer modeling, plus the reduction in fire companies and stations, often the ambulance arrives first. If the first Paramedic on scene takes a quick evaluation and decides a second Paramedic is not needed, the ambulance crew cancels the responding fire engine. I have been working with CONFIRE Communications to see if we can easily develop hard data as to the percentage of times this happens. From my listening to the CONFIRE dispatch frequencies, it seems this happens a lot.

Finally, a word for the CocoTax adherents. If you disagree with the County’s EMS service model go after that. If you think the Paramedics, the John Muir and Children’s Hospital Trauma Centers, the medical helicopters are all gold-plated, have the decency to address the issue directly with the BOS rather than use the Fire Districts as a point of attack.What you are accomplishing is the serious diminishment of the ability to fight fires as well, as well those rescue functions that have always been the province of the Fire Department.

As for the perception of Board inaction, we know what we have to do and when we have to do it. Board and Staff are hard at work with a lot of precursor activities to an election. I would love to come up with a plan that Kris Hunt, Vince Wells, and Dan Hatfield praise with faint damns. Unrealistic? Perhaps, but I maintain hope. Expecting Dan Borenstein to strew rose petals? Now THAT’s unrealistic.

Sheldon May 3, 2013 - 2:49 pm

Nice try Steve, but you can’t rewrite history. You have quite an imagination when it comes to filling in the details.

Perhaps it’s time for you to exercise your right to remain silent. That way you are only presumed a fool.

You have a lot to learn. You might start by contacting those that control and regulate county EMS. Pat Frost for starters. Then you can step up and meet with a County Supervisor before you waste anymore time.

Remember, the clock is ticking and your delusions of grandeur will only slow down the process.

Good luck mate.

Steve Smith May 3, 2013 - 5:27 pm

What part am I making up? BOS Resolution 2002/358 (6/24/2002)? BOS Resolution 2009-940 (10/27/2009)? BOS Resolution 2009/527 (11/10/2009)? ECCFPD Draft Budget from the 5/3/2010 Meeting? ECCFPD Operating Budget from the 6/29/2010 Meeting?

We have met with both Pat Frost and Leslie Mueller, the AMR General Manager. And yes, I am known to Supervisor Piepho.

Sheldon May 4, 2013 - 9:36 am


You are joking right? I am extremely familiar with the history and don’t draw the conclusions that you do. The history, including board orders are clear. Your interpretations are not.

“We” have met with both Pat Frost and Leslie Mueller… Doesn’t really mean that you have met with them and they are in agreement with you. Frankly your word smithing suggests quite the opposite. “You are known to Supervisor Piepho”? Again with the word smithing? What is that suppose to mean? Since Piepho is the one that has the final say you just spiked the bullshit meter into the red.

Sorry Steve, I’m not buying it and I would bet good money neither are they.

P.S. Thanks for pointing out how quickly “the new board” spent down years of accumulated financial reserves without taking any action. The key to stop shooting yourself in the foot is knowing not to reload. You might want to give it some thought.

burkforoakley May 4, 2013 - 9:56 am

Anyone can list Board Resolutions, what do they say?

Steve Smith May 4, 2013 - 11:55 am

2002/258 consolidated the three former districts into the ECCFPD, with the BOS serving as the Board of Directors. 2009/940 gave preliminary BOS consent to the turnover to a Board appointed by the City Councils of Brentwood and Oakley, with 2 appointees by BOS. After both Brentwood and Oakley passed similar resolutions of consent, 2009/527 effected the final turnover. The new Board first met on February 3, 2010, more than halfway through the 2009/2010 budget cycle. The 2008/2009 FY budget had edged into the red by a small amount. the 2009/2010 FY budget from the BOS was showing the $1.35 Million operating defecit I mentioned. I stand by my assertion. There was a cushion, but the operating defecits were significant and increasing.

If you wish, I can email you softcopies of the resolutions. The budget numbers are available in the Board Agenda packets on the ECCFPD website for the meeting dates referenced.

burkforoakley May 4, 2013 - 9:55 am


I am a bit confused here on some of your history which is not accurate, the BOS has to be involved due to unincorporated areas within the District. Whether we like it or not, they are forced to be a part of the discussion.

Unfortunately, the District was given a $6 million cushion to buy some time to find a long-term solution, the Board instead decided to kick the can down the road and wait before acting.

There is no CSD for Shadow Lakes, there was simply an agreement to build a fire station in that area to replace the Bethel Island station. Not sure exactly what you are refferring to.

The EMS Service Model should be left alone. Your theory about Dispatch screening the calls is misleading and untrue–could you imagine the liability? I have no problem is engines get cancelled before arriving, but they sure as heck better be dispatched JUST IN CASE. Also, very wrong about ambulances arriving first–that is not yet proven under reduced services.

Sorry Steve, any plan that Kris Hunt, Dan Hattfield and Dan Borenstein agree to is not one I can support under their current hard-line stance. Until they can learn to negotiate away from their hard stance, I am against their suggestions.

Finally, the Board is inactive. I know for a fact that the Board is not going to be discussing any revenue enhancement until contract negotiations is complete– A HUGE MISTAKE as you are already behind in the debate. Instead of fiddle farting around over AMR housing, look at the big picture.

Steve Smith May 4, 2013 - 1:02 pm

At their 3rd regular meeting (May 3, 2010) the new Board got their first look at the preliminary 2010/2011 FY budget with the beginning balance and operational defecit figures I cited. Everything is there in the board packet, including the projected outcome of the 2009/2010 FY budget with the deficit figure I cited. The new budget had to be passed by June 30th. The Board changed the service model by closing 2 stations and reducing the number of firefighter positions. The final budget was passed in a special meeting on June 29th, with the final deficit figure I noted. I don’t classify that as either waiting before acting or can-kicking.

My bad on Shadow Lakes. I should have checked my notes. I really meant Summer Lakes (AKA Cypress Lakes). You might have assumed I meant Delta Coves on Bethel Island. Also, it is a CFD, not a CSD, but it does exist. It was formed in 2006 as part of the Conditions of Approval for the subdivision (granted by the BOS as it was then in unincorporated territory). It appears in the ECCFPD Special Accounts Summary. Check with the Chief.

The CONFIRE Dispatchers do indeed perform initial EMS screening of calls according to a protocol provided by County EMS services. They are trained and certified to do so. See http://www.cccfpd.org/communication.php. They dispatch ambulance-only responses where appropriate. I am working to get hard data on the percentage of fire response being canceled by an on-scene ambulance or QRV.

I feel the EMS Service Model is exceptional, but it should be reviewed in light of developments since it was established. I really question the EMS FUNDING Model in that it relies on a certain amount of hidden fiscal subsidy from Fire Districts with their backs to the wall.

You should have already have received the Board Packet for Monday’s meeting. I fully support the Staff recommendation on item D.2, and feel it will pass. I have always opposed unilateral action by the Board on AMR QRV housing.

Pat Frost and Leslie Mueller were part of our March 16th Board Workshop, and there was a good deal of back-and-forth, admittedly not all pleasant. I certainly support full ECCFPD participation in the EMS review, and feel that is the way to work with all parties including the Board of Supervisors, County EMS, and our fellow Fire Districts.

Look more closely at what I said. I meant grudging acceptance by Kris Hunt, Dan Hatfield, AND Vince Wells. That is a big difference. How can we expect to get a 2/3 supermajority with CocoTax and the Times in active opposition? Without Local 1230 Support? The big picture is that the campaign starts with the beginning of 2014, but some important things have to be in place, including a Contract with Local 1230 and service models (and the associated budget projections) with and without a Parcel Tax.

JigsUp May 4, 2013 - 8:17 pm

Steve…….buddy. Get off the copy and paste campaign for a second and use your brain. Are you trying to impress someone by randomly slapping together paragraphs from staff reports and agendas or something? Because a couple of these posts are so disjointed as to be alarming. It would appear your appointed position has gone to your head. Your earlier suggestion that you have taken upon yourself to education here has now become an insult to my intelligence.

You’ve been asked multiple times now. What is your incremental cost for medical calls? If you can’t answer the question, what in the world are you doing going to anybody expecting them to give you money? If you can’t qualify the request, you are engaging in a proposed misuse of public funds. Because you can’t use EMS money for fire suppression. Been said before. Are you not listening?

Since you said you had met with Ms. Mueller and Ms. Frost, what was their response to your request for money?

While you noodle that one, let us back up here for a second. You said you have been on this since 2006. You do not disagree with the fact that the local leadership group was handed a 6 million reserve fund. But then you wander off into some weird blame game.

Here’s a real important point. When oversight of ECCFPD was handed to local control with a joint agreement of the BoS, LAFCO and local officials, what were the top two tasks that local leadership agreed to? Once you have identified those, then we can watch you start the next tap dance routine to try to blame the Supes for the failure of the locals to accomplish either of those items.

Have you also forgotten that you are not an independent district at this point in time? So what is your read on the likelihood that the Supervisors are going to play sugar daddy for you? I guess you forgot the fact that there are many fire districts in this County. To set precedent with some misguided bailout for you would have all the rest lining up for the same handout. Since EMS is not likely to have extra money lying around(doubtful any county agency does), just how far were you intending to gut their services? Did you not consider the fact that in order to give you money they would have to take it away from their services provided to others? Did you do any mental calculations about who was going to be the fall guy for you?

Do your fellow board members follow this blog and are they signing up for this train of thought you’re on? Because this is looking more and more like a ship without a rudder. You spend all this time chasing money you can’t get, meanwhile the clock on the grant money is ticking and if you don’t solve the long term fiscal problem, we’re all screwed. That should be your first, second and third priority, in my opinion, and to get there you should stop pursuing wild goose chase nonsense that will not result in any meaningful resolution to the budget deficit.

I look forward to whatever creative math you want to pitch that says I’m wrong.

B-Wood May 4, 2013 - 10:50 pm

Steve, I believe Sheldon and Jigs are correct.

As a long time resident I have a few observations of my own.

The BOS did not “take over the district”. Im not sure where this rumor started but it is false. by default, the BOS has always been the governing body. Byron, Knightsen, Bethel Island, and East Diablo never had the governing ability to run or (fund) a department. It was always done via the County as a dependent district. The county’s re-organization of the district into ECCFPD created a standard service level and unilateral governance. What is important here is that you know the difference between a dependent and independent district.

Apparently there is no argument that the County created 6 million in financial reserves. What I do find troubling is how quickly the locally controlled board spent it down, while (as you mentioned) the district fell further into the red.

It was jointly decided by BOS/city leaders of Brentwood & Oakley that increased revenue was needed due to the rural apportionment via Prop 13. All agreed that a new tax would be necessary and would have a greater chance of succeeding with local origination and local control rather than coming from Martinez. This is specifically why the board was “turned over”.

The two directives were for the “new board” to seek independent status as a independent district and revenue to be secured via a ballot measure. I have to agree with Burk in summing it up; the BOS/LAFCo gave the new board two directives (and 6 million bucks). They did little, until it became critical mass and then rushed a ballot measure without a good public education campaign. As expected it failed, miserably. Now here it is years later and what do we have? No funding measure, no independent status, and a depleted 6 million dollar reserve. Sound like a success story? You sure you want to argue about who is to blame? I believe this is what Burk referred to as “kicking the can down the road”.

It isn’t that complicated and if you were paying attention, was all documented in the press. As JigsUp stated it can also be confirmed by LAFCo or a simple call to the County. You might want to pick up the phone instead of doing so much “cut, paste and assume”, because all you are doing is setting yourself up for failure. By not making those contacts, I have to question your motives and rational. I think that is what Sheldon, Burk, JigsUp are also wondering.

What is ironic is that all of us want the district and the new board to succeed. However playing reindeer games puts us right back where we were and waiting on a campaign again, will seal its fate. I hope you can find a better use of your time as a board member than wasting time that we don’t have. By creating confusion and pursuing pipe dreams that have zero chance of succeeding you only inspire the anti tax crowd. JigsUp said it best, “Been said before. Are you not listening?” I hope this registers and you work towards a sustainable fire district for all of us.

I wish you the best of luck.

ECVsBrother May 4, 2013 - 5:45 pm

Steve, you have it down perfectly. The liberal extremists on this blog including Burk will never agree with you because you make real sense. The few extremists here seem to dream money is abundant from the public and all you have to do is threaten, yell the sky is falling, and then demand to get it. That’s a pipe dream for those few. They will always criticize and talk down to anybody that doesn’t agree with them. That’s why this site was started in the first place. They do not see the debt this district has taken on from even as far back as East Diablo eventually will sink their boat without real leadership and responsible decisions. Since day one the district has spent more than it takes in. The county never gave the district six million for anything. That would be illegal as they have stated so many times. The county also never gave them funds to provide medical calls. That would be legal but not politically savvy. I here medicals are up to eighty percent of all the calls. That all by itself is a fair amount of lost revenue the county is responsible for. The county should owe the district for medicals dating back to the time the supervisors gave up and passed the district to the local control. The amount of funds these short sighted extremists think they need to make the perfect fire district would be well over a thousand dollars per household. Even if they got that it would not be enough. They would want more. The public will not agree to that ever. The public may agree to something if the commission demands the county pay up for medicals, the union reform it pensions, and the district is running as lean as it can. You are wasting your breath on the few politicos here that are only spokesmen for the union and the supervisor in hopes to get a pat on the back. These politico puppies will never be anything more than this blog. You are on the right track Steve. Do not let these know it all’s sway you. They have done enough damage by their rhetoric and lies.

ECV May 4, 2013 - 7:17 pm

@ ECV’s Brother,

Hey “Bro”, That rant was hysterical!

Thanks for showing everyone what batshit crazy looks like! Now please, for the love of God, take your meds.


JigsUp May 4, 2013 - 7:59 pm

Dude, at this late stage of the game you are STILL talking like the fire department gets paid by the call?

That’s hysterical!

So with this hairbrain logic if you just stop responding to medicals your budget deficit goes away and you get to reopen all your stations? Is that the way your brain is wired?

I can only speak for myself. There is no handout to be had from the County. When the grant runs out, we are not just back to the 3 station model we had before. We are more like back to 3 stations with only 2 guys per. That was already mapped out before the Feds gave us a lifeline. The rest of your rambling nonsense is just that. Nonsense. The district not running lean? Are you joking or are you, as another poster suggests, off your meds?

It would appear by “liberal extremists” you mean expecting handouts. I don’t see that as a possibility. YOU, on the other hand, have repeatedly said you expect the County to give you money to address this problem.

Talk about your hypocrisy and irony mix. Keep talking, buddy. You’re a one man comedy show.

And who the hell appointed you to speak for the public at large?

Steve Smith May 4, 2013 - 10:45 pm

Politics aside, I will always dialogue with Burk because he puts his name and his rep out there and provides a real service for the public. I expect him to update with a correction if he makes a factual error, as I did when I goofed about Summer Lakes CFD.

JigsUp May 5, 2013 - 7:34 am

In other words, you still don’t know what your incremental costs for medical calls are before demanding money so you want to change the subject.

Thanks for educating the readers on what you know(or don’t) and where you stand.

B-Wood May 5, 2013 - 10:15 am

JigsUp, when people are light with facts they often use diversion. (Its always the same chronic behavior; denial, hypocrisy and finally diversion). Whether they use there names or not, Blogs are a breeding ground for individuals sounding off with no accountability.

Personally I could give a rats behind if someone chooses to use their real name. Facts will always speak for themselves and there are a multitude of reasons for those who post under a pseudonym.

Whoever you are, thanks for questioning, educating, and giving us another side to consider. Your comments (anonymous or not) make sense and are aligned with real perspectives, all which are important to readers like me.


B-Wood May 4, 2013 - 11:32 pm

ECV’s brother,

Are you for real or are you just really, really, really angry? Your entire post was a hypocritical rant that puts you all over the map. Hint: you aren’t helping your position.

You are speaking in nothing more than self inflicted rhetoric. It’s bad, real bad.

Your best line was a hum-dinger; “They will always criticize and talk down to anybody that doesn’t agree with them”. Then you went on to criticize people that YOU don’t agree with and label them “Liberal Extremists”. You might want to look in a mirror because you just labeled yourself with your own criticism!

I doubt that anyone is working on this issue for a “pat on the back”. Not Steve, not Burk, not Sheldon or JigsUp. I think most of us have realized the way things are going, that it is survival mode for the district. Apparently you missed the facts that our fire district is the lowest paid, and has a huge revenue shortfall. Not the old board, new board, supes, firefighters or citizens are to blame. While the economy played a large part, the problem is rooted in Prop 13. Like it or not, The district does not get enough funding when compared to any other departments. Your local schools get somewhere between 50-60 percent of your property tax dollar and yet the fire department has to make due with pennies. Are you going off on your local school boards? at the rate of disproportion one would think you would be attending every meeting. Are you actually suggesting that we pay the ranks, minimum wage for risking their lives and doing what most of us would never consider?

I don’t understand why you think your opinion trumps the facts. The county did hand over the district with 6 million. Argue all you want, even shout at your computer screen but you will lose. Based on your other posts, you probably do that a lot….(shouting and losing).

The revenue tax that was on the ballot was 197.00 as I recall. Sooooooo, How the heck do you come up with 1,000.00 per household? Fuzzy math? I hope you realize all of what you posted made any position you may have had irrelevant and easy to dismiss.

We get it. You don’t want to pay for adequate service. You dont want to take care of those who might take care of you in your hour of need. Maybe it is time for you to relocate to a lesser populated region where fire service can be administered by volunteers. Here in populated Brentwood and Far East county the days of volunteers (work for free) are long gone. All your arm waving won’t change that…..ever.

Former Chamber Brother May 5, 2013 - 9:41 am

Well said, Burk does put his name on it and usually will admit he is wrong. I seems like some of the posters on her are intimately involved within the District somehow and would be interesting to see who they really are as they know too much information. Credit to Mr. Smith for having a conversation while some continue to try and belittle him in the process of a discussion. When you can’t win, you simply attack.

As for ECV Brother, I hope you are never in charge of fire services, your leadership would likely cause pain to many residents of East County.

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