Pittsburg: Station 87 Closes, Fire District Faces Longer Response Times

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At 8:00 am Monday morning, Station 87 of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District closed its doors at 800 W. Leland Road in Pittsburg.  This was the fourth station within the District to close since the beginning of the year due to budget cuts.

The station closure now reduces the number of stations to 23, down from 30 in 2011.

In speaking with the Vince Wells, the President of the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, Local 1230, he shared just how critical Station 87 was to not only Pittsburg, but the entire District.

“For this area, Station 87 is a critical unit in Battalion 8,” explained Wells. “It’s our second due engine in Bay Point and they are also able to go over the hill to help Concord and Highway 4 incidents. So that component being gone will have a significant impact on our operations not just in western side of East County, but the eastern part of the county as well.”

Even with the closure, he is still hopeful that with property values coming up and additional revenue coming in, this is a short closure until later into the year or after a report is completed on the County EMS Model.

“We are hopeful for a reconsideration now that there is a little bit of money so that maybe they can put this (Station Closure) off until at the minimum at the end of the fire season. I think they should wait until the report is done since that is a big deal,” said Wells.

If it doesn’t occur, a domino effect will remain a fixture in East County that will result in a longer response for service going forward.

“With 87 closing, Engines from Antioch or Concord will be pulled for service to the area to fill the gap. Either way, everyone is going to wait longer,” explained Wells.  “The big concern is the Bay Point fires which are smaller houses that we can knock down, but with the second due gone at this location is where we are going to miss some opportunities to knock down the fire before it gets larger.”

In terms of response times, Wells isn’t quite sold on the GPS estimating a minute longer response and explained how other variables must be considered when estimating the added response.

“If you look at it from the GPS, it’s a minute longer, but I don’t trust those times because guys have to get their gear one, the first engine in gets to an incident and then is able to start to perform their functions,” said Wells. “There is a lot more time in getting prepared than just getting there on scene.”

Even with the closures, Wells states they are still talking with the Fire Board on solutions and finding the best ways to utilize limited resources.  Mutual Aid and Auto Aid may be the next casualty as they are hot topics within the District—there may even be hard numbers implemented shortly as to total number of engines that can leave the District at one time.

For example purposes, lets say the cap is at “4 engines”. If there is an incident in Moraga-Orinda requiring 4-engines, should East County need assistance at the same time, we would not get a single engine; our aid would have to come from CALFIRE, Stockton or another agency. The reverse is also true if there is a fire on the Antioch/Oakley/Brentwood border, it would essentially be every district for themselves.

Wells thinks auto aid may need to be eliminated due to lack of resources.

“We are a fire district that’s 304 square miles 9 cities and unincorporated areas but we have been accustomed to covering the entire county. Unfortunately we don’t have the resources to do auto aid to the same level we have done in the past,” said Wells.  “We would like to see it eliminated completed and go to a mutual aid completely, but there is some compromise there. We are working on those types of things and calls we go on. It’s all critical.”

Note: Auto aid is aid based off need whereas Mutual Aid is assistance upon request through dispatch upon arrival on scene.

Wells believed the community was getting a good service when it came to its fire service. Now, he is not so sure and believes the community is being short changed with its tax dollars with reduced service.

“The community was getting a great service when we had enough engine companies, but now they are starting to lose the value of their tax dollars because some of the calls we used to go to we are not going to be able to. You are going to have people waiting on floor longer, lock outs, vehicle leaking fuel type calls are going to be put in cue and prioritized. So I think it will impact the community significantly in just what they get out of their fire department,” explained Wells.

With another station scheduled to close in January of 2014, Wells does not see how the Board can even consider it given the prior closures and number of incidents.

“If another closure occurs, I don’t see how that can be considered after what we have seen now at the level we are at with the six companies taken out. There have been multiple situations where firefighters, the community and property in this community was at great risk and impacted by the lack of resources,” said wells.

The Contra Costa County Fire District covers 304 square miles and about 600,000 residents.   Staffing has dropped from 90 firefighters a day and 30 engines to 66 firefighters a day and 23 engines.

 

20 COMMENTS

  1. People are now paying for services they wanted to pay for. No one to blame but themselves.

  2. It’s FIVE(5) stations and 7 companies since last year. We used to have 30 companies(which was STILL gross understaffing mind you)to protect 600K+ citizens. Now we have 23 companies. TWENTY-THREE(down to 22 come January)for 300+ sq. miles and over a half million citizens, hills/Mt Diablo, refineries, pipelines, waterways, bridges, freeways, tunnels, railways, BART, chemical plants, high rise buildings, a major airport, an amusement park, malls, 3 colleges, umpteen high schools/middle schools/elementary schools…the list goes on and on, people. You name it, this county’s got it. It’s almost getting comical, now(not really). It saddens me as a citizen of this once great county to be seemingly helpless to do anything about this nonsense. Good luck…I guess.

  3. Dominoes are starting to fall. This will impact east county as well. Auto-aid will almost surely go by the wayside to be mutual aid only going forward. If you don’t know the difference, might want to look it up. The bottom line it means longer response times and poorer coverage.

    While the disagreement wages on the 1 minute difference in GPS let’s keep in mind fire doubles in size in one minute. Not a big deal, you might think. Unless it’s your house on fire or your loved one on the ground. Then one minute is huge.

  4. Very Sad, my son just graduated High School and want to be a fire fighter and hopes to start EMT school soon. I’m kind of worried there won’t be any jobs for him!!!

  5. I am tired of the sky is falling attitude when a station closes. How many firefighters have been injured from closures? How many houses burned down? How many deaths due to station closures? Sky is falling argument is getting old and its time to impliment more ambulances instead of engines

    • You’re talking about fires and then say we need to deploy more ambulances?

      Did you get lost on the way to the talking point?

      There has been all kinds of property lost that might not have been if stations hadn’t closed. That isn’t put into headlines and posted “Look Here!” for the slow thinkers. But it’s there if you just read the news and consider about how much faster an engine could have arrived pre-closures days.

  6. Not mentioned by this hack writer is none of the firefighters lost their jobs in this closure.

    • Well you would recognize a hack writer, Dave.

      Interesting that your primary focus is to kill jobs. Is that consistent with your intent during the campaign too?

      Consolidating stations saves money because it reduces backfill need for days off, vacations and other overhead. Pretty funny that the teaheads are now complaining about saving money.

    • Ahhhh Dave Roberts…..the original Yellow Hack. It’s interesting that you, a person of such monimental failure always shows up to bad mouth our fire fighters. (Your jealousy is showing again Dave).

      Then again Dave Roberts is an expert on losing jobs! He can’t stay employed to save his own pathetic life. His is a checkered past writing for free publications but never seeming to hold on. Nice comment Dave, but im sure most of us are glad “none of the firefighters lost their jobs”. What a bottom feeder….

      • Excellent article by Tom Barnidge. http://www.contracostatimes.com/tom-barnidge/ci_23653220/barnidge-contra-costa-fire-district-has-lots-problems

        Of course it was wasted on none other than Dave Roberts. You can read his comment below. I can’t believe how blind he is, even as expert after expert explain the issue. it makes me believe he has some level of retardation. Roberts should have to wear a sign warning others of his ignorance.

        Read the article and then read his comment. It appears he just can’t help himself.

        Dave Roberts
        Glad to see that they’ve hired a consultant to streamline expenses. This should have been done a decade ago, as everyone could see that overly generous salaries and benefits were bankrupting the district. Instead they stuck their heads in the sand and hoped to keep sticking it to the poor, overtaxed taxpayers.

        • I predict Mr. Roberts will be very frustrated when he finds the report echoes what several others before it have said. The district is underfunded. Expenses have already been cut. Roberts seems to have the idea that you run a fire department with minimum wage labor or something.

  7. @DRoberts
    Fail. The reason there hasn’t been layoffs due to closures is because ConFire and ECCCFPD both have been grossly understaffed for years(saving these districts money…but hey don’t let facts get in the way). All that OT money that you all think that was just GIVEN to every firefighter as some sort of “brotherhood bonus”, was actually earned by firefighters covering the 30-40 vacant positions that SHOULD have been hired for, to fill every position, at every station over the past 5 years. Closing stations means less overtime….that’s it…from an overhead standpoint. If all positions were occupied, there would have been 45-50 layoffs…maybe more. Please know what you’re talking about before you speak.

    @BobbyLott,
    Another example of a failure of epic proportion. If it looks like the sky is falling, it’s because it is, sir. And you refuse to realize it until the pieces hit you or your house …like it’s hit other houses and families that you just haven’t heard about. Sorry, like JigsUp already alluded to, there is no list for you to check out the “tragedies that didn’t affect me”. They happen. Every call where time is of the essence, and they happen multiple times a day, will be affected by every station closure and staffing reduction. ANY reasonable person, not motivated by self-interest, can see this. Again…fail.

  8. Who is this Wells guy? Does he run the fire districts now? I thought there was boards and chiefs for that stuff.

    The sky is falling it hit Rick S on the head. Self interest huh. Now there are five stooges. Maybe they can round up 67 percent that agree with them. Time to consolidate like all big institutions that want to survive.

    • Which is the dumber logic? You insisting your neighbor pick up the check or suggesting if you combine 2 underfunded districts you get one properly funded one?

      Like RickS says, you expect welfare.

    • ECV brother,

      You are dumb beyond words. Either you have a comprehension problem or a mental block. It’s right in the post; “Vince Wells, the President of the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, Local 1230,”. It’s no wonder you have such a hard time getting through life. You don’t understand the obvious. Its ok, we understand that big people, big words and complex ideas confound you.

      Yes little brother, the sky is falling and more than likely most of the 67 percent now realize they were duped. You are just to busy trying to master that breathing thing to notice. In-out-in-out, repeat. Must be nice to be such a simpleton.

  9. ECVB,
    Failure upon failure. I’ve seen your clueless, UNREALISTIC drivel on other threads. This “Wells guy” cares about you more than you care yourself. Yeah….I hope the firefighters can drum up more than the MAJORITY that already voted for the tax once. Forget what the people want, right? Let’s go with what the MINORITY wants. Only a loser would claim victory in that instance. But i guess I should consider the source. You should be thankful the vote wasn’t today because if the were, it’d be a lot closer to 67% than you’d be comfortable with. Thankfully, that antiquated requirement will be gone by the wayside in a few years. Anyways, ’til then, I’m sure you’ll keep enjoying the full benefits of something you refuse to pay for. Kinda like welfare.

    • RickS,

      Great Post! Don’t worry about ECV”B”, his is ignorant, frustrated and has made his opinions irrelevant. He couldn’t even come up with his own pseudonym so he tagged onto mine. It’s typical of his 3yr. old mentality.

      I wouldn’t waste your time explaining the obvious to him. There are a few like him here that insist on asking stupid questions that A) either they already have the answers to but don’t like them or B) they just want to keep asking them over and over hoping they will wear you down with their ignorance. Personally, I stopped doing their homework for them a long time ago. They are just trolls who are extremely jealous of your profession due to their own shortcomings.

      • Pardon me. I should have realized that some of you are firefighters and need to protect those overpaid dollars for working 45 minutes and then watchin TV for three hours. My mistake. Big bro can you pull your nose out? It may get stuck if you leave up there too long.

        • Dude, that’s about as stupid as saying you pay the cop by how many tickets he writes or soldiers by how many KIAs.

          Clearly a chip on your shoulder. Did you not pass the test or something?

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