Contra Costa should look at how Orange County reduces fire district costs

The Orange County Register reports that the City of Costa Mesa has ratified a deal with its firefighters that eliminates a minimum staffing requirement and will save the city $600,000 to $800,000 in the first year and $2 million to $3 million in the long run.  The biggest savings come from changes to pension plan contributions and the elimination of minimum staffing, according to Councilman Steve Mensinger.

The Register reports:

The fire department will begin restructuring to use smaller crews and smaller vehicles to respond to medical emergencies, which make up about eight of every 10 calls. Using smaller vehicles instead of the large fire trucks – which requires four people on each truck, including two paramedic firefighters – the department will be able to better respond to medical emergencies and have quicker response times . . . three people will be on each fire engine or truck, and two paramedic firefighters will be able to respond by to medical emergencies by ambulance or another vehicle . . . over time they will save money and make the department more efficient.

This report raises questions for Contra Costa residents, including:

  • Could Contra Costa’s fire organizations operate more economically through use of alternative staffing plans?
  • Will taxpayer rejection of Contra Costa Fire’s Measure Q – the parcel tax on the November ballot – prompt CoCoCo EMS to revise county plans to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of emergency service delivery?
  • Should Measure Q fail at the ballot box, will the county jeopardize public safety by reducing/eliminating emergency services, or will it explore innovative staffing plans and other service delivery options that the community can afford?
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  1. Voter says

    BGR, I think you can see by the IP if any comments are coming through public entities during working hours. That would be just too funny if some of this stuff is coming public employees on the clock.

  2. Voter says

    Someone spent a lot of time rigging the survey for measure Q. The No votes were 2 times higher than the yes votes. Today suddenly over one hundred people logged in to vote yes? I doubt it. This is the kind of game they play to coerce votes. No on Q and Yes on 32 before it’s too late. The system is financially broken and needs to be fixed before putting more pressure on the public. Prop 32 should be a yes vote. Why ? because, our taxes get funneled through firefighters payroll union dues to the union to politically influence the same people who control the budget for the fire districts. It the biggest scam to the taxpayers of all times. If a union member wants to donate to a political party that’s fine, but to use union dues collectively even when some members disagree is unfair. No on Q , Yes on 32 for real reform.

    • says

      Some thug with a chip on their shoulder had a lot of fun this morning, probably on the taxpayer dime. But hey, have fun, right? That someone would waste their morning stuffing the ballot is equal parts hilarious and sad.

    • says

      The only solution at this point to solve the ballot stuffing issue was to turn off page caching and return the plugin (based on the time of day) to pre hack status. Maybe this will discourage bad behaviour. This may slow down page load speed for which we apologize. ~ der management.

  3. Brian says

    Interesting article. The big difference between the OCFA (Orange County Fire Authority) and CCCFPD (Contra Costa Fire) is that OCFA already had staffing levels of 4 firefighters per Fire Engine and 6 per ladder truck (NFPA Reccomendation). Contra Costa already runs lean with 3 Firefighters per engine and 3 Firefighters per ladder truck. The Pension portion that OCFA Firefightes pay is way less than the 25 -28% of salary that CCCFPD Firefighters pay, and the minimum staffing has been decreased in Con Fire by 18 firefighters already with cuts to crews at Station 1 (walnut Creek) and Station 6 (Concord). Remember the PRIMARY PURPOSE of the Fire Department is to respond to Fires. Running around in a pick up truck or “squad” vehicle to run medical calls is inefficient, because those vehicles do not have the tools or equipment to extinguish fires. Comparing the OCFA to Con Fire is crazy. The OCFA has over 1100 personnel, working out of 61 fire stations protection a population of 1.4 million. Since you brought up Costa Mesa, lets compare the staffing in Costa Mesa, CA (pop. 116,500) to Concord, CA (pop. 124,055). First Costa Mesa is protected by 6 fully staffed fire stations with 6 engines and 1 ladder truck, and 28 firefighters on per shift. Costa Mesa has approximately 9,000 request for service (calls) per year.
    Concord has 4 fully staffed fire stations, with 3 engines and 1 ladder truck and 12 firefighters on per shift. Concord has appoximately 8900 calls for service (calls) per year.
    To recap Con FIre protects Concord with less than half the staff and fire engines that OCFA protects Costa Mesa with.
    It might be hard for this author and other readers to swallow, but Con Fire is run extremely lean and efficient compared to other departments. I would love to hear which station(s) you suggest that Con Fire place a pick up truck at in place of a fire engine. I would suggest that we try it, then notify all of the area residents that a pick up responding as the first vehicle to a fire.

  4. Voter says

    I find it suspicious that now the fire districts are admitting to their funding waste, pension abuse, and medical response funding costs. Why haven’t they even tried previously to hold these costs down? We have been taken to the cleaners these past years. They have known of the waste for years yet nothing tangible has been done. One more thing, If the fire chief of Orange was the Fire Chief of Contra Costa that is also a wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to public tax money. He should know better. Even worse, if the Orange County Fire Chief was a Contra Costa Chief, is he collecting a pension and a salary ? If so, the pension laws need to be updated stating that a public employee collecting a full pension should be ineligible for that pension if working in same industry and or public service. Choose one or the other should become law. That would be a lesser but other form of double dipping the taxpayers. No on Q ! Fix the broken system first ! The band aid pension reform by the governor is useless to the current problem and only partially helps long term. The people need to force real pension and waste reform. To do this requires …. a No vote on Q

  5. Doing the work says

    Interesting that the Chief of Orange County Fire was the previous chief of Contra Costa County Fire.