Home CONFIRE Vince Wells Statement to CCCFPD

Vince Wells Statement to CCCFPD

by ECT

After watching the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting, I asked Vince Wells for a copy of his statement urging support of the $75 parcel tax for Contra Costa County to ensure fire stations remain open. I thought it was powerful and full of good information.

If you did not happen to see the video, here is a copy of what he provided to the Board of Directors.


I come forward on behalf of the fire fighters of the CCCFPD  to ask for your unanimous support of this parcel tax.

The revenue this tax will bring in to the fire district is critical and will allow us to continue to serve and protect the lives and property of those within the district and surrounding communities.

I think it is important that those that will pay this tax, and who rely on you as their elected officials to provide them with adequate fire protection, see that this tax has your full support.

Since this recession began, you, the administration, and the employees have worked together to reduce costs. Through these measures we have been able to minimize service reductions over the past four years. Unfortunately the loss of revenue is insurmountable by internal measures alone. 90% of our funds come from property taxes. We have lost 32% over the last four years.

Our fire district is currently understaffed from the top down, so therefore we cannot make any more cuts with out significant reductions in service. We have gone from 30 engine companies to 28. This is has left us with 84 fire fighters to cover 300 square miles and over 600,000 people. Without the revenue replacement this tax will provide, we could be down to as low as 54 fire fighters on duty per day.

Together as a labor/management team, we have worked to reduce the cost of doing business. We have taken pay cuts as a bargaining unit, and have not negotiated any contracts with pay increases or benefit improvements since 2006.

The tax amount will not solve all of the district’s problems, which the fire chief and the board has made clear. It allows us the time to continue to provide adequate fire and emergency services while other cost saving measures are worked out and revenue returns.

We realize that times are hard and that tax measures are unpopular these days. However, public safety is the number one priority for government and most citizens expect a timely response when they call 911. Unfortunately due to the loss of revenue, we will not be able to continue this service level without successfully passing this parcel tax.

Again, on behalf of the fire fighters of CCCFPD and the citizens we protect, we ask that you support this parcel tax and place it on the ballot to allow the citizens to decide whether they want to maintain their fire services or not.

Vince Wells
President, Local 1230
Contra Costa Professional Firefighters

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christine mikulice Jul 31, 2012 - 4:34 pm

People forget that the cost of living goes up for EVERYTHING, and that includes gas, insurance, vehicles, water and everything else that makes businesses, and that that includes government agencies, work. We need the services that receive (and so often take for granted) on a daily basis. Yes, we need to pay for them, so yes, sometimes taxes must go up. I’m voting yes.

Thanks for the service, I’m glad to know that y’all are there if I need it.

Type2OK Jul 31, 2012 - 8:08 pm

True, so has mine too. I haven’t had a raise in five years. I lost have my medical and dental. Will you pay for mine too?

Jana A. Jul 31, 2012 - 8:23 pm

And would we still be having this discussion if you had a healthy 401K and medical and dental benefits?? Umm, I think not.

It’s funny because your employer can choose to give you raises on either an annual, bi-annual or whenever they feel like it basis. But when you reach the top of your step in the public safety sector that’s it – your salary is capped.

My employer gave raises out last year and bonus monies….maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.

B-wood Jul 31, 2012 - 8:41 pm


Either way you pay. Cut fire services and your insurance goes up. It is not too complicated. As Geico would say; “Even a caveman could understand it”.

BTW, the fire department/firefigher’s were not asking for a raise, much to the contrary they have given up much of their pay. It was stated today that they have given up 10 percent. It sounds like they have done more than their part to make things work. How about you?

JimSimmons42 Jul 31, 2012 - 6:15 pm

If people don’t feel the firefighters have given up enough, then vote no. But if you value public safety and believe they have already sacrificed enough, vote yes! Personally, I think they could have asked for more but they played it safe and for good reason based off East County.

One thing that is sticking out to me is 54-firefighters to cover 300 square miles if this goes down. Doesn’t east county have 9 for 250 square miles? That should give East County folks a wake up call.

Type2OK Jul 31, 2012 - 8:05 pm

So far it appears East County Fire is doing a great job for far less pay and with far less firefighters per square mile. Good Job ECCFPD. They prove it can be done. No need to vote new taxes. Maybe ConFire should take a lesson from ECCF.

Barbara DuMont Jul 31, 2012 - 8:30 pm

The only reason it appears that its working in ECC, is the fact that the majority of the people are clueless as to what is going on around them. People don’t think about public safety until they need it. Sorry but we have been lucky so far. Its a house of cards and it is going to fall. Someone is going to need help and are going to have to wait an extended time for it. That’s when the finger pointing will start. Its just a matter of time. If my house was to catch fire, I expect it to burn to the ground. Seriously! Its an older wood structure and it will go fast, long before enough fire fighters can get here to save it.

B-wood Jul 31, 2012 - 8:34 pm

@ Type20k

Can’t say I agree with your assumption. I think we are a heartbeat away from certain disasters. Statistics will prove this out-it is only a matter of time. Our area is a ticking time bomb. I have no doubt that the firefighters here in East County are doing a fine job but the reality is they cannot cover the district adequatley with only 3 stations and limited staff. We have simply been lucky so far. Let’s not forget we are just a month into this.

Actually taxes have gone down or didn’t you notice? It was specified today that the fire dept. is funded over 90 percent by property taxes which have decreased 3 years in a row. It is clear to me that they need a small amount of it back if they are to continue the levels of service most of the county has come to expect.

From what I watched today the only ones trying to complicate it were Wendy Lack and Kris Hunt from that angry taxpayers group. In East County it was Dave Roberts who filled out the trio and John Gonzales who made it a quartet. People here will not soon forget who led us down the path to slashing our fireservices.

The entire funding, revenue and cost process was explained several times and neither Ms. Hunt or Ms. Lack understood it. It’s like they are stuck on some details that they made up, because what they (Lack and Hunt) are saying makes no sense at all. Did you watch the hearings? Those two ladies were just plain weird.

So if you think East County fire service is working ok with just 3 fire stations then let’s let some more time click off the clock. It is not “if” disaster will strike it is “when” disaster will strike. Mark my words.

Bob Jul 31, 2012 - 10:17 pm

That’s a stretch of logic.

It’s only 30 days into a horribly understaffed fire department situation. The worst of fire season isn’t even upon us yet.

Fire departments are like health insurance. You want to pay for the best you can afford. So when the time comes that you need it, you don’t get “taken out” either financially or mortally because you just didn’t have access to the service.

You staff for the worst case scenario with a FD, knowing full well most days you don’t need it. It’s those rare occasions that you do that count.

I was horrified to watch today’s meeting and learn that a medical has already gone down where a person lost their life because of slower response times. The bean counters now officially have blood on their hands. They made the calculation that a philosophical choice of no new taxes was more important than public safety. Now we see the result.

BenSmith Jul 31, 2012 - 6:35 pm

If you guys have done so much then why are people still complaining? It’s sad that some people just want to say no for whatever reason. If the tax being asked for does not solve the problem, why not ask for more and why not do something that fixes the problem?

RichardS Jul 31, 2012 - 8:44 pm

@Type 20k.
First off. Yes…BRAVO to those guys working out in East County doing the best that they can with the cards that was dealt to them by it’s own citizens. Unlike you, sir, I actually give a crud about those fireman AND the community that made a really bad choice in voting down this tax. This is a ticking time bomb out east. I hope something is done before it explodes.

As far as post goes, I can’t help but laugh. You are epitome what’s wrong here. You are an opinionated person who has exactly ZERO clue as to what you’re talking about. The worst kind of voter. This has got to be the most uniformed post that I’ve seen yet. You clearly aren’t privy to the response statistics out in ECCCFPD’s area. Here’s one little tidbit for you, however. ConFire’s units go into ECCCFPD’s response area about 10 times a day…maybe more. ECCCFPD cannot, I repeat, CANNOT even adequately respond to a vegetation fire nor structure fire within it’s own boundries without the help of ConFire. As many ConFire units respond to a structure fire as does ECCCFPD provides when anything halfway big happens. So let me get this straight, and now you’re advocating ConFire go to the same inadequate response model?! The sad thing is that you’re probaby one of those people who will be the first to be up in arms when it takes 20 minutes for somebody to arrive at YOUR emergency. You say take a lesson from ECCCFPD, I believe that the citizens of east county are going to wish that they voted yes on this as we move forward from here…after this ConFire tax passes. I believe that the citizens have a perfect example of what not to do.

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