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?