San Carlos Real Estate Agent, San Carlos Realtor Cal Fire Submits Initial Proposal for San Carlos Fire Contract. | The White Oaks Blog
Living in San Carlos March 11, 2010

Cal Fire Submits Initial Proposal for San Carlos Fire Contract.

by Chuck Gillooley

The Other Half of the “Preferred Option”.

Today, Cal Fire submitted their first-pass proposal to provide San Carlos with fire and emergency services.  If you recall from my post earlier this week, the City Manager has stated that his preferred option to balance the city’s budget is to outsource both police and fire services to outside agencies.    The San Mateo County Sheriff’s office is due to deliver their proposal for police services by Friday of this week, in advance of the Budget Workshop on Saturday, March 13th.

The Cal Fire Plan:

The detailed plan can be found on this link on the City’s website, but here are some of the key points of their proposal:

  • It provides two, 3-person, Advanced Life Support (ALS or paramedic) engine companies rather than the current Fire JPA mix of one Engine Company and one Truck Company in San Carlos
  • It uses the Cal Fire approach to staffing and scheduling rather than the Fire JPA approach
  • The proposal offers both a Cal Fire Staffed cost and a “Red Circle” Staffed cost where Fire JPA employee salaries are frozen until they “catch up” with the salary levels paid by Cal Fire
  • The proposal also assumes that all current Fire JPA and Cal Fire employees are at the highest salary step.  To the extent that is not the case, actual costs to the City will be lower and potential savings will increase
  • Annual cost for Cal Fire Staffed services: $3,495,262
  • Annual cost for Cal Fire/Red Circle (frozen salary) Staffed services: $4,257,525

What Does This Mean?

Just like the situation with the San Carlos Police Department, the initial glance raises more questions than it answers.  Here’s just a few:

  • What exactly is the “Cal Fire approach to staffing?”
  • What happens to existing members of the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Department?  Absorbed, or fired?  Are we going to get crews that know anything about San Carlos?
  • What is the disposition of Station 16 on Alameda?  There’s some vague wording about “sharing of fire resources between San Carlos and San Mateo County/Cal Fire to address the existence of the overlapping stations on Alameda (BSCFD) and Cordilleras (Cal Fire).  That sure sounds like it’s leaving the door open to a station closure somewhere….
  • What happens with the existing ladder truck that currently is staffed between Belmont and San Carlos on alternate years?   Do we now have to rely on a neighboring city for basic ladder service?
  • What happens to the HazMat rig?
  • Do we have references from other municipalities (preferably local) that have contracted their fire service to Cal Fire?   What is there experience with this arrangement?  Did they achieve the cost savings that were promised?

One problem that is not solved is the staffing level for each engine company.   The existing law requires that before a strike team can enter a burning building, there must be an equal number of support firefighters on the outside.  So if a 4-man engine company is first to respond to a burning building, they can send a strike team of 2 firefighers inside immediately.   But if a 3-man engine company is first to arrive on the scene, they must wait for the next company to arrive before anyone can enter the building.     This is exactly what happened at the recent fatal fire on Devonshire.   So on the surface this is no better than what we already have — and with the loss of the tiller rig, it seems inferior.

The City claims that Cal Fire’s proposal will save the City save between $1.2M-$2M annually.   Just like the Police Department proposal, more details are supposed to be forthcoming at Saturday’s Budget Workshops on March 13 and 22nd.    And the same question needs to be raised in both cases:  How are they able to provide the same level of service that we have now at such a drastic discount?
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Cal Fire Submits Initial Proposal for San Carlos Fire Contract., 2.4 out of 5 based on 5 ratings
Comments 30
  • The City of San Carlos appears to be considering 3 options to reduce costs:

    1. Reduce # of city employees and/or wage/salary levels for those employees (I believe City Manager has indicated cuts of 10% to 20% would be neccessary)

    2. Out-sourcing

    3. Consolidation

    I will admit I have not studied the numbers in detail.

    But I believe we all are sophisticated enough to understand that the numbers can be adjusted in many different ways – different assumptions can be made and will lead to different results – so that the numbers can be manipulated to prove whatever the person who prepares the report wants it to prove. What’s the old expression about lies and statistics??? My mind draws a blank right now.

    So I am skeptical about out-sourcing reducing costs with no loss in service. VERY SKEPTICAL.

    Consolidation might be the long term answer to controlling exploding government costs. Certainly one would think that economies of scale would bring cost savings. Often I work with relocation clients looking to move to our area and they are blown away about how many cities we have in such a small area. Are there like 15 cities in San Mateo County alone?

    My sense is that consolidation while offering potential long-term benefits should not and can not be rushed into.

    So if I am skeptical of cost savings thru out-sourcing and believe consolidation needs a longer analysis, what’s left?

    In my opinion, I believe we should look at maintaining our current City structure. I believe it is important that we maintain a City Police Department.

    I have posted many comments about run-away government spending at the State and Federal levels. Frankly, I am on the “warpath” against those in Sacramento and Wash DC. In my opinion, these folks have done great damage to our State and Nation.

    At the State and Federal levels, I am going to JUST SAY NO to any tax increases PERIOD. Of course, I have little impact on what Sacramento and Wash DC choose to do.

    At the local level, I am open to considering tax increases to maintain services.

    But this comes with a VERY BIG caveat and this deals with the matter of FAIRNESS and EQUITY.

    Employees in the private sector have been laid off in record numbers, while total public employment has actually increased during this period. Many employees in the private sector have had their wage and salaries reduced 10% to 20%.

    While public employees are valued members of our community (as we all are), I do not believe they should be exempt from the current economic realities that those in the private sector face every day.

    We have already developed a class of “political elite” who vote to determine what their salaries are and what benefits they receive – who have better retirement plans that the Social Securty the rest of us get. Let’s not develop another separate class “public employees” that is immune from economic realities based on increased taxation of the private sector.

    Based on fairness and equity, it is not unreasonable to expect that wage and salaries for public employees be reduced given the current economic climate.

    So we are in a tough spot now – economy bad, tax revenues lower and govenrment costs continue to increase. But this will pass – the economy will improve and perhaps we can get greater control on govenrment expenses.

    So let’s not dismantle the City now.
    I believe this is an action we could come to regret in the future.

    I am open to paying additional taxes provided City employees do their share and agree to accept lower compesnation like many in the private sector have done. To the degree City employees wish to maintain their jobs and maintain City structure, they should be willing to accept lower compensation. I am not asking City employees to do the City any favors. I want all City employees to act in what they deem their own best interests – no problem there. I believe it is in the best interest of all City employees to maintain their jobs and maintain City structure but that is for them to decide.

    Should City employees agree to accept less compensation to close the budget defecit then I am OK with a tax increase to fully close the defecit and maintain our City structure. I believe more of the defecit reduction needs to come from lower employee compensation than from a tax increase. The City of course has tried to reduce costs but more needs to be done.

    If City employees determine it is NOT in their best interests to accept lower compensation, that is fine – it is their choice.

    Then it will be my choice to vote against any tax increase.

    I believe we can maintain our City in the same basic structure as we have now but significant concessions from City employees will be neccessary before any tax increases gain wide-spread community support.

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  • Chuck,
    You raise some good points in your blog, and as a municipal firefighter in another area of California I will try to provide some answers that may help the citizens of San Carlos.

    What exactly is the “Cal Fire approach to staffing?”
    – Cal Fire employees work a 72-hour work week (53 hours of straight time and 19 hours of planned overtime). In some Cal Fire administrative units this is 72 consecutive hours and some it is broken up over the course of the week. Also given the large overtime demands within fire departments, most municipal fire departments in California allow their employees to work 72-hour tours.

    What happens to existing members of the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Department?
    – Cal Fire will absorb all of the current employees that want to join their department, which ensures you will continue to have local firefighters. Also, remember most of your firefighters were new to San Carlos at one point in their career.

    What is the disposition of Station 16 on Alameda?
    – This is an excellent question that I did not see addressed in the proposal. Is San Carlos interested in enhancing its service level or saving money or both? Maybe the community could use the savings to add another engine company or increase staffing to 4 firefighters per company (given ff per company staffing is one of your concerns). Another option would be to investigate automatic aid agreements with San Mateo County Fire to ensure all the residents of San Carlos and the county are getting the most benefit out of their tax dollars. Your comment about a station closing is pure speculation as best I can tell, but your question about Station 16 is valid nonetheless. The answer should be determined based on the community’s expectation for service.

    What happens with the existing ladder truck that currently is staffed between Belmont and San Carlos on alternate years?
    – The city could certainly choose to staff a truck if they own it. I suspect the problem is that the truck is shared with Belmont which may not want to participate in this situation. If Cal Fire were asked I am sure, as a service provider, they would be happy to staff a truck or an engine. The vehicle is just a tool.

    What happens to the HazMat rig?
    – Here again Cal Fire personnel are perfectly capable and trained to staff a hazardous materials response unit, as are the current San Carlos FD personnel that could continue to be employed within the city. This is simply a level of service that has a cost associated with it.

    Do we have references from other municipalities (preferably local) that have contracted their fire service to Cal Fire?
    – Check the San Carlos FD website for a complete list
    http://www.cityofsancarlos.org/gov/depts/fire/council_report___initial_cal_fire_proposal___march_13_2010.asp

    What is there experience with this arrangement? Did they achieve the cost savings that were promised?
    – Your savings come from two main areas. First, Cal Fire employee compensation costs have historically been much lower than most municipal fire departments in California. Second, using the 72-hour work week, Cal Fire is able to use fewer firefighters to cover shifts when compared to the 56-hour work week used by the San Carlos/Belmont FD.

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    • Muni,

      Thanks for your detailed response. Just a couple of counter-points:

      1.) The closure of Station 16 is not speculation. When the CIty Manager asked each department to submit proposals for 10% and 20% cost reductions to their respective departments, it was specifically called-out under the 20% cost reduction scenario. On top of that, Brian Moura yesterday cited some study (that for some reason nobody here has ever seen) that cites an overlap between Station 16 and “the Cal Fire Station on Cordilleras.” I assume he’s referring to Station 18 on Edmonds Road? So if Cal Fire needs to cut costs, which station do you think they’ll close first? Will they close their own station and move to the City-owned Station 16? Of course not. So in that scenario, the response time to my home in San Carlos just went from 1-2 minutes (I live 0.5 blocks from Station 16) to probably 8-10 mins for an Engine to come all the way down Edgewood. Sorry, this is not an acceptable solution.

      2.) Cal Fire references. I indeed saw the list of communities that are under contract with Cal Fire. What I was referring to is this– has anyone on Mark Weiss’ staff actually interviewed anyone in those cities to get a feeling for how the arrangement is working? I keep hearing horror stories of huge cost increases, diminishing services, and high turnover rates of existing firefighters under some of these Cal Fire arrangements once they have the hook set. I have even heard locally that the Coastside district (HMB, Montara) are becoming increasingly unhappy with their arrangement with Cal Fire. Is this speculation? I don’t know… But the City needs to investigate these other arrangements, and then publish their results — BOTH positive and negative.

      3.) HazMat. I don’t think this is a “nice-to-have” capability. My understanding (and I could certainly be incorrect here) is that we’re under contract to support and provide HazMat services for the County, and on top of that it’s an income producer for the department.

      Additional questions…

      4.) What happens during the summer months when Cal Fire starts pulling equipment and personnel from all over California to fight wildfires hundreds of miles away? You know we will lose our “local” firefighters in this situation. Who is going to back-fill the staffing in these situations?

      5.) Virtually every other fire district on the peninsula is facing budget challenges (Burlingame, Millbrae, Belmont, etc..) Has any of these departments considered outsourcing to Cal Fire? Why or why not?

      Bottom line, the City Manager of San Carlos seems to be enamored with his own solution and the “cost savings” that outsourcing police and fire can possibly bring. But they need to do a whole lot more due-diligence before anyone in San Carlos should be convinced this is the right solution. My understanding is that we don’t even have an official “quotation” from Cal Fire yet…just one of their boilerplate Request for Information responses. So in my book, these numbers don’t hold a lot of water just yet.

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      • The key to remember is that Cal Fire is a contractor and if you are not happy then they are out. The City of San Carlos will set the service level based on thier needs. As for question # 4. San Carlos can send units now if asked by OES. The station will still be covered regardless of fires statewide.

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        • Yes; If OES sends a strike team then the Sta. gets backfilled, BY GUYS THAT WORK FOR THAT DEPT. If Cal Fire is staffing thay will run short, because of San Mateo County border drops we will cover our own. yes the responce time will be longer. How much is a life worth?

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          • When Cal Fire is engaged in a City contract such as this there responsibility is to the city regardless of what it may say on the back of the work shirt. These are issues that people must understand and get the facts before making negative statements. In other words the level of service would never be changed regardless of the states wildland fire situation. The City would NEVER be left high and dry as some may think!

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      • Chuck,
        First, I applaud you for providing this blog for your community. The only way to hash out all of the questions is through forums such as this. Also, I appreciate you keeping your counterpoints respectful. Discussions about public safety often degenerate very quickly.

        Now, in response to your counter points, I provide the following comments.

        1) Station 16 closing – thank you for clarifying the issue for me. I was unaware that option was proposed. However, it really has nothing to do with Cal Fire. Ultimately, the city of San Carlos could opt to close that station with or without a contract. I go back to my previous post – is the city looking to reduce service, enhance service, or maintain the current level of service for less money. If the answer is the latter, there are only a couple ways to do this. Also, I agree that for your personal situation the closing of Station 16 would be an unacceptable reduction in service.

        2) The city should visit other communities under contract with Cal Fire – couldn’t agree with you more. The only way the citizens will get a complete, intellectually honest analysis is if the city manager, fire chief, firefighters’ union, and community get involved, and get all of the information on the table.

        3) Haz mat service – I didn’t say it was a nice to have. I simply said it is a service that Cal Fire is perfectly capable of providing. Hazardous materials training is standardized in California. If this is an important service for the community, then the city manager should request its inclusion in a contract.

        Additional questions…

        4) Fire season staffing – the type of Cal Fire contract being discussed by the city manager is called a Schedule A contract. With this type of contract, Cal Fire would have a legal, contract obligation to maintain the staffing / certification levels requested by the city. The engines in San Carlos fire stations (owned by the city of San Carlos) would be utilized for mutual aid throughout the state no different than how they are used today. The San Mateo county operational area coordinator would determine which engines from the various fire departments in the county would be utilized for mutual aid assignments. This is exactly how it happens today. If a San Carlos engine were up for an assignment (which I assume is a rotational thing in San Mateo county), the station would be backfilled utilizing off duty personnel working overtime. ALL of the fire departments in the State of California participate in this mutual aid system.

        5) I don’t really understand the context of this question. Who knows what the other cities are thinking, and why should it matter to the citizens of San Carlos. Maybe the other cities’ budget problems aren’t as severe. Maybe they are going to raise taxes. Maybe they don’t like Cal Fire. Who knows. I’m guessing the citizens of San Carlos are capable of making up their own minds without having to ask their neighbors what to do.

        I think it is unfair to lambaste your city manager for proposing a SOLUTION. If people don’t like the proposed solution, fine, but make sure to offer an alternative. That said, I applaud you again for demanding that any solution be fully scrutinized to ensure the quality of your public safety services.

        In closing, I hope people base their assessments on facts, not hearsay or speculation. Cal Fire’s employees are firefighters, paramedics, haz mat tech/specs, rescue techs…that attend the same training as other firefighters in California. This issue is about what level of service San Carlos wants and how much they are willing to pay for it.

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    • Halfmoon Bay contracts with Calfire to staff the three stations on the coast. The staffing level is 24 personnel. In the last 2 years there has been close to 100 firefighters that have worked in this district. How does a department keep any knowledge base if the turnover is so great? They say they have a cliff rescue and water rescue program but how can they meet CAL OSHA requirements in maintaining their certifications. Calfire only cares that they have a warm body in the seat to show the engine company is staffed.

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      • Hello I am reading the articles and the comments. In a way it is sad to know that the people of this great state really dont see the professionalism and dedication the Cal Fire employees give. On last evaluation of parity pay for Cal Fire employees to Local Government employees, the Cal Fire employee was 53-56% less than Local Government employees. The Cal Fire mission is “ALL RISK” statewide. Therefore, the level of training is equal or exceeding that of other departments.
        There is no wedge in who can do the job better, when an individual decides to take the path of self sacrifice and dedication to help others.
        If you are not involved with this type of life style you could not be expected to understand what these people put themselves and family through. They are the homeland soldiers and will step up to any community and be there for them.
        I understand that there is concern to the “CHANGE”, that could happen, but from first hand knowledge, no community could even notice a change.
        Cal Fire is the State Fire Marshal.

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  • IF CAL FIRE is such a great deal and great service, then why doesn’t everybody use them. Station 18 on edmonds road is always empty. They cover areas in Half Moon Bay all the time because they can not keep the staffing to staff all the engines. Half Moon Bay used to have an excellent ocean water rescue program and Rope/Cliff rescue team. What do you think happened to that resource when Cal Fire came into their town. It no longer exists because all the local firefighters tested out an left to work other places. Cal Fire does not have the staffing to staff the stations so they use firefighter’s from SoCal to work up north. Do you think the Southern California CAL Firefighters know where your street is, or where the quickest route to your home is? Do they even know where city Hall is?
    Does Cal Fire even know how to run a truck company efficiently? Last time I checked they used to be in rural mountain areas ( formerly known as CDF- California Department of Forestry Fire Protection) . Truck service is not free in this county either. Brian Moura talks about cross staffing a truck/engine. This does not work. When there is a call/emergency and the engine is across town doing inspections, training, hydrant maintenance, or community events, etc, the engine would have to go all the way back to the station and pick up the truck and be greatly delayed in responding to your home or neighborhood. When summer comes be prepared for the State to do whatever they want with their Cal Fire engines too. Remember you get what you pay for.

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    • I would recommend that you look at the Riverside County Fire Web Site. Cal Fire does operate ladder trucks and has Haz-Mat Units. The engines in San Carlos will stay regardless of fires around the state since there is a contract obligation. I would assume that San Carlos would go any where now in CA if requested. The reason most other cities are not looking at Cal Fire is because they are really afraid to look at the true money savings.

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    • Calfire,

      Why don’t YOU look at the data from LA county where they took back their fire service from Cal Fire after years of sub-standard service.

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      • Mike,

        Before I comment on Mike’s fals statements, I don’t care if San Carlos contracts out their fire protection to Cal Fire (it’s a contract not outsourcing, a term used to scare people) or not. Mike’s statement about LA County is completely false, Cal Fire has never worked in LA County. Many parts of unincorporated LA County are in SRA (State Responsibility Area) just as unincorporated San Mateo County’.

        The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is responsible for fire protection within State Responsibility Areas (SRA). SRA is found in 56 of California’s 58 counties and totals more than 31 million acres.
        In most cases SRA is protected directly by CAL FIRE, however, in Kern, Los Angeles, Marin, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, SRA fire protection is provided by the counties under contract with CAL FIRE. Known as “Contract Counties”, they protect 3.4 million acres of SRA.

        CAL FIRE provides funding to the six counties for fire protection services including wages of suppression crews, lookouts, maintenance of fire fighting facilities, fire prevention assistants, pre-fire management positions, dispatch, special repairs, and administrative services. The Department’s budget also provides for infrastructure improvements, and expanded fire fighting needs when fires grow beyond initial attack.

        Contract Counties are responsible for providing initial response to fires on SRA. When a wildland fire escapes this initial attack, CAL FIRE responds with fire fighting resources to assist the county.

        Currently, the state funds 68 fire stations, 82 fire engines, 12 bulldozers, 10 fire prevention officers, and portions of the 6 emergency command centers in the six counties.

        CAL FIRE continues to provide other services to Contract Counties including urban forestry grants, support during earthquakes, floods, and other disasters, and the services of California State Fire Marshal which was consolidated into CAL FIRE in 1995.

        Get your facts straight Mike, or get out of the discussion.

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        • DL,

          WOW, you sure sound like a CalFire salesman. They are the only fire agency in California that has a sales department by the way. My facts are straight son – what bothers me about you and all of the other Cal Fire cheerleaders in this discussion is what you’re leaving out. The pay schedule, the work schedule, the FACT that their employees are free to move about the state. What happens when the State starts giving Cal Fire employees the same kinds of deals that CHP and the state prison guards get? You all assume that Cal Fire is the answer. The forefathers in San Carlos set up a Fire Department because they wanted a department that would address the unique needs of their community and be able to control their employees whereabouts. The State is the problem folks. The state is to reason you are being bled to death. The state is taking your money and now you are considering getting into bed with them. What makes you think they will honor any contract when their first solution is to steal money from local government? You are being fed lies and half truths. Remember, when the Cal Fire engine pulls up out front – put away your valuables. There could be felons or any other sort of gypsy on board. Mostly, their seasonal, part-time employee workforce is what makes their world go around. Most of them aren’t even trained. And when they leave – they may be on their way back to Weed or Etna or other points north or south. The lie that resources from San Carlos will be back filled from San Carlos is laughable. At most, Cal Fire will place 25 personnel in San Carlos. There won’t be enough of them left in the area to back fill for the one’s that go to the big fires. Move-up engines from other areas will get that assignment.
          And I think you do care if the city contracts with Cal fire

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          • I think they will care when they get a taste of CalFire service, but then it will be too late. Bob Grassili keeps pointing out that if we’re not satisfied we’ll have to go to the State to complain, and where do you think that will get us?

            anyone who thinks the State cares about the survival of local government hasn’t been paying attention.

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  • KPIX just ran a news story on the possible outsourcing to Cal Fire. Here’s the link: http://cbs5.com/video/?id=63080@kpix.dayport.com

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  • There is a grand Jury Report for RIverside County CAL FIRE to not contract services with CAL FIRE anymore because of there uncertain costs and unreliability to make response times and staff stations. Riverside county wants them out of there. But the money to make a new department to save more money down the road is too much for them at once. Once you go CAL Fire you never go back. It’s not like a cable bill and you just cancel your service. Court fee’s, union negotiations, citizen’s complaints, citizens votes, time and effort. Save your self the headache and save your department. Remember too. Once you contract with CAL FIre, your money is supplementing areas of santa cruz mountains and La Honda where they do not have the tax revenue. The engines will not stay in San Carlos either during the summer months. They have an obligation to the state and answer to the state, and not to the City of San Carlos. Sure they will fill the city with an extra engine with overtime that will be coming from BIG sur which is 3 hours away. Also too do you really think other neighboring fire depts. will be sending there engines into San Carlos to protect the city. No way, they are done helping and bailing out the city of san carlos. If they do come into the city it will cost the tax payers of San Carlos for every emergency. CAL Fire has only been in San MAteo County For about 10 years not 40 like Brian Moura said at the council meeting.

    Here is the link

    http://westcoast911.com/wp/2009/07/09/grand-jury-report-on-riverside-county-fire-department-do-not-contract-with-the-state/

    http://westcoast911.com/wp/2009/07/17/could-riverside-county-form-its-own-department-and-end-contract-with-cal-fire/

    Two articles about the report. The real Grand Jury Report is available and the riverside county court hall of Justice.

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  • Don’t believe the innuendo about CalFire performance at Coastside Fire Protection District CFPD serving Half Moon Bay, Miramar, El Granada, Princeton, Moss Beach and Montara. It was a big legal battle with IAFF Local 2400 to get Cal Fire in here. Local 2400 spent a lot of money to put their cronies on the Fire Board only to lose in Court. Those cronies are still on the Board, bad mouthing CalFire and yet without an alternative to CalFire that provides the same level of service. Board president Cilia is a L2400 member and is a Battalion Chief in San Mateo City FD.

    CalFire has done an excellent job in adapting to our special needs such as high angle cliff rescue. Responses are unchanged, we haven’t had any short staffed engines like we had in the bad old days and we only pay for the services we actually use. That’s very important with a less than five station small District.

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  • Anonymous says

    “Half Moon Bay used to have an excellent ocean water rescue program and Rope/Cliff rescue team. What do you think happened to that resource when Cal Fire came into their town. It no longer exists because all the local firefighters tested out an left to work other places.”

    Not true. See the presentation on Cliff Rescue at the February 25 CFPD Board meeting on MontarFog.com.

    “Cal Fire does not have the staffing to staff the stations so they use firefighter’s from SoCal to work up north. Do you think the Southern California CAL Firefighters know where your street is, or where the quickest route to your home is? Do they even know where city Hall is?”

    When CFPD had it’s own employees, they lived all over the state and some out of the state. The SoCal Firefighter mentioned worked for CFPD transfered to CalFire has stayed with them and has been promoted. All engines have route maps, GPS and they train continually driving streets to keep familiar with changing conditions. We have a lot of narrow, old, steep and unpaved streets with parking issues. Even the “locals” had to drive routes to stay familiar with Changing conditions. There was a lot of innuendo about lost engines circulating on blogs, but it never proved.

    “Does Cal Fire even know how to run a truck company efficiently?”

    CFPD doesn’t need a truck company. All the equipment is on all three of our engines and the tactics employed are to quickly knock down and contain fires. Second engine arrive usually within minutes of first engine with entry team suited up and rescue initiates on second engine arrival. Truck service is a LUXURY San Carlos can do without. Changing engine equipment and tactics can achieve the same level of service to the community.

    “Last time I checked they used to be in rural mountain areas ( formerly known as CDF- California Department of Forestry Fire Protection) .”

    Riverside County, Indio…

    “When summer comes be prepared for the State to do whatever they want with their Cal Fire engines too.”

    Not true. All departments participate in strike teams. It’s a local decision on whether to participate.

    “Remember you get what you pay for.”

    Not true. It’s what you contract for or enter into a JPA for and how much the contracting organization can control the terms of the contract and negotiate the delivery of service. CalFire has been very low overhead and very cost effective for CFPD. In terms of Management, Admin. and Fire Marshal we only pay for what we need. That allows us fully staffed engines with local needs training and 24/7 Battalion Chief Management. We could not afford that level of service with any other provider, contract agreement with another local agency or going back to having our own employees.

    Expect a lot of Local 2400 Fear Uncertainty and Doubt propaganda. Only trust information form official sources. No need to even trust me.

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    • In all fairness why does San Carlos have a truck anyways? Having a truck means that 50% of the stations in San Carlos can’t even fight a fire. Redwood City wants us to have a truck so they can call on us when they need it. We only have a couple of buildings that are 4 stories, wouldn’t it make sense for us to have an engine and call on Redwood City when we have a tall structure fire? The reason Cal-Fire has not been more succesful in SM County is because of the local unions. The local unions refuse to go to the 72 hour work week, and block Cal-Fire from coming in. The attempted to kick Cal-Fire out of the county, but realized we may one day need their planes in case we have a wildland fire (60% of the county is unincorporated land).

      In regards to HMB losing their water and cliff rescue, what does that have to do with San Carlos? Where is the water? Where are the cliffs? San Carlos is a pretty vanilla town when it comes to fire service.

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  • Frustrated asks:

    “In regards to HMB losing their water and cliff rescue, what does that have to do with San Carlos? Where is the water? Where are the cliffs? San Carlos is a pretty vanilla town when it comes to fire service. ”

    CFPD never lost its cliff rescue capability. That was a misrepresentation several pro Local 2400 Board members and political candidates have spread around. The HMBFPD surf rescue program was shut down by The Board in 2006, when HMBFPD had its own Firefighters, because of safety concerns raised by those Firefighters. CalFire took over in 2008 and started a broader water rescue program. Those are the facts. If you doubt them, see the presentation on Cliff Rescue at the February 25 CFPD Board meeting on MontarFog.com and discussion of water rescue at the January 27 Board meeting. What this has to do with San Carlos is the citizens of San Carlos can expect to hear a lot of innuendo about CalFire. They should check the facts.

    These are other examples of the special needs of CFPD that HAVE BEEN MET by CalFire. We also have a large multistory building and have a Quint.that CalFire trains on and staffs, when needed. We have thirty thousand residents spread over a large geographic area with a few big buildings and manage without a Truck Company. Most of our District is surrounded by wild lands. So, we have small wild land engines, again that CalFire trains on and staffs, when needed. Part of our District has a small water system with limited storage capacity, so we have foam systems and the capability to pump ocean water or pond water and tactics adjusted for the water resources we have.

    I’m sure that if The City of San Carlos has some special needs, CalFire can meet them in a cost effective manner.

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  • anonymous says:

    “Once you contract with CAL FIre, your money is supplementing areas of santa cruz mountains and La Honda where they do not have the tax revenue.”

    Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties use local property taxes to contract for services from CalFire. Using CalFire means Staff and Costs are shared with all these other contracting agencies. Why pay $200K per year for a full time Fire Marshal, when your community can pay for only the services your community needs(especially when construction is off) by sharing CalFire’s Fire Marshal with all these other communities? Sames true for Training, Recruiting, Human Resources and all the functions mandated by all the legislation in Sacramento that add up to make an under five station department financially nonviable, today in California. The advantage of contracting with CalFire over a JPA or regional department is there is no contention or negotiation with the other contractors agencies over common resources. Each agency negotiates with CalFire for its needs and CalFire points out the opportunities to share resources with other agencies. Trying to negotiate with another local Fire Department that wants to fund a Truck Company and wants their neighbor to pay for it is a losing proposition.

    “The engines will not stay in San Carlos either during the summer months.”

    The don’t have to now. They participate in State OES strike teams. It’s good training and the local District gets reimbursed.

    “They have an obligation to the state and answer to the state, and not to the City of San Carlos.”

    All Departments participate in State OES and San Mateo County Greater Alarm plans and Boundary Drops.

    “Sure they will fill the city with an extra engine with overtime that will be coming from BIG sur which is 3 hours away.”

    It’s a local decision on whether to participate in a particular State OES operation. It is now and will be if CalFire contracts with San Carlos. The priority is to cover San Carlos and any overtime is reimbursed. Going out on Strike Teams is a great training experience for the Firefighters.

    “Also too do you really think other neighboring fire depts. will be sending there engines into San Carlos to protect the city. No way, they are done helping and bailing out the city of san carlos.”

    Neighboring Fire Departments are contractually obligated to do so. All fire agencies in San Mateo County participate in the Greater Alarm plans and Boundary Drops. No Department can handle every emergency, so there is mutual aid. Other Departments and Cities understand they have commitments to their neighbors and their own safety is based on meeting those commitments.

    “If they do come into the city it will cost the tax payers of San Carlos for every emergency.”

    Not true. If there is a long term major imbalance in call responses, the Chiefs will negotiate dispatch changes.

    “CAL Fire has only been in San MAteo County For about 10 years not 40 like Brian Moura said at the council meeting.”

    “CalFire” in the form of CDF has been in San Mateo County for longer than many of the municipal departments. Most of the County is State Responsibility Area.

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    • Laine (anon)

      Why don’t you keep your opinions focused on Coastside or better yet on the area in Idaho where you really live. You are sitting back enjoying the fruits of your HMBFD retirement – full medical and the works while you try to screw your brothers. You know as well as the Cal fire lovers that when the fires start in So Cal that there won’t be enough resources in San Carlos to keep the City staffed. You know that the replacements will be from all over the state. Those replacements will know NOTHING about the community they are assigned to protect. You also know that CAl Fire can barely keep a Paramedic on staff so the burden for that goes to the boundary drop departments – much like up at 17. Why don’t you talk about the 100 employees that have gone through the coastside since Cal Fire took over. Nobody wants to work there – or in San Mateo County. They don’t pay enough for the cost of living here. These departments will be used as stepping stones for a few years until the better employees promote and move on. Why don’t you talk about Cal Fire’s background checks? The fact that they hire felons? This is not a one-size-fits-all community. Maybe yours is.

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  • I work on a Truck Company (100′ TDA) for Cal Fire in the Riverside County Fire Contract. I love it, The oppertunity is great that this Dept has to offer. I have worked allover as well, I worked in the Fresno County Fire Contract as well as down in San Diego. It doesn’t take long to learn a new area. Where I work all our equipment has MDC in the rigs and our calls are sent right to them with GPS routing. As far as when the fires get burning down South. I havent been on a Type 3 Wildland Engine since 1999 and when it really hits the fan, Days off are canceled and everything is covered anyway. Whether people want to contact or not, its up to them. I can just give my opinion that Cal Fire does staff Hazmat Rigs, Ladder Trucks, Type 1’s, Type 3’s and anything else you throw at us. I am proud to say I work with excellent trained fellow employees. What it boils down to is people do care and when a new contract comes over, the new Cal Fire employees that go in there take pride and do the best they can for their community. As far as Riverside wanting out, that talk has been going on for aslong as I can remember. it wont happen. Cal Fire is the best bang for their buck.

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    • I’m glad you’re happy with Cal Fire. We’re happy with our Fire Department and want to keep it. Our firefighters do not want to work for Cal Fire and the firefighters in Half Moon Bay, who are now working for Cal Fire, don’t like it.

      If Riverside County doesn’t take the advice of its Grand Jury, there’s something wrong there, but that’s not my problem. I won’t tell you how to run your city if you’ll do me the same favor.

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  • Chuck, is there any way to keep these “anons” straight? You can see their emails but all we see is anon. Just Anon 1, etc. would be fine.

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    • That’s a good point.

      While I’m grateful to those who take the time to comment on the site, it would be nice if you could remember to create and use a consistent username so that others at least know which user is making a particular point. You don’t need to put in an email address, so there are no worries about retaining your anonymity. It’s getting confusing in some of these forums when there are 3-4 “anonymous” commenters on the same topic. Thanks….

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  • Riverside County is looking into starting their own fire department since Calfire is raising their administrative fees an additional 2 million dollars in July (14 million in administrative fees for 2010).

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  • First off, Riverside County is increasing their fee for the contracts they have for the Sherriffs Office by 5 or 6%. But there is no mention of that anywhere. Also, there has been a long time black balling of CAL FIRE in San Mateo County for years. Some of it may have to do when in the 70’s, the Governor ordered CAL FIRE (CDF back then) to staff San Mateo City stations when the FD went on strike. Not CAL FIRE’s fault for following orders. Riverside County has tried to threaten to start their own FD anytime they don’t like something CAL FIRE might do. They did the same when they were going to move the Air Attack Base. As for starting their own department, have at it. Ask San Bernardino County how well that went or may be Orange County who filled bankruptcy. As for Half Moon Bay, the whole problem is with two board members. One is a Local 2400 member & the other is a disgruntle Half Moon Bay ex-Firefighter. The funny thing about this is CAL FIRE doesn’t need more contracts. Nor does CAL FIRE go looking for contracts. They are asked by the City, County or Fire District. But it always comes down to attacking the employees. The reason alot of the Fire Departments are in this situation is that they price themselves out of business. Would a CAL FIRE employee like to make over $100K without working any overtime & only working 10 days a month? That’s pretty obvious! So if someone makes less money for doing the same work, does that make them less of an employee? It all boils down to other departments in San Mateo County are scared that CAL FIRE might be sceen as a option to their fire service which would be a threat to their high pay.

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  • No raise in Cal Fire fee in riverside county?

    What is this?

    http://www.pe.com/localnews/politics/stories/PE_News_Local_W_calfire12.45a2e8e.html

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