The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District will soon limit the amount of aid it dispatches to the East Contra Costa Fire Protection
District in a move to conserve its own dwindling resources, fire officials said Wednesday. Contra Costa Fire provides automatic aid to several neighboring districts as well.
The county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve Contra Costa Fire's new operational plan, which caps automatic aid to the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, which on July 1 closed half of its stations after district voters rejected a parcel tax measure in June.
Within the next month, Contra Costa Fire will provide only up to three fire units on each call from East Contra Costa Fire, said Contra Costa
Fire Chief Daryl Louder. East Contra Costa may still request the larger district's help for major incidents, however.
The reduction in service will not affect the San Ramon Valley, which occasionally receives help from the County Fire District on large incidents. Louder said San Ramon Valley Fire is very well staffed and requires assistance less often than neighboring districts.
"It's never good when your neighbor, your partner is reducing service," said San Ramon Valley Fire Chief Richard Price. " I expect (aid) to continue as it does today. At least for right now, I don't anticipate that we'll see that much in the way of change."
Tuesday's vote comes as Contra Costa Fire works to cover calls in its own district, which spans Antioch, Pittsburg and Bay Point, after cutting increasing numbers of staff amidst budget shortfalls, Louder said.
"We already have very limited resources ourselves, and we're going to make sure we still try and be good neighbors but try to protect our own communities," the chief said.
From July 1, when East Contra Costa closed stations in Brentwood, Knightsen and Byron, to July 9, Contra Costa Fire has assisted on more than 18 fire and medical calls, while East Contra Costa has sent aid to their neighboring district on just three calls, Louder said.
The chief noted that East Contra Costa has already tried to minimize the impacts of station closures on his fire district by responding to their own low-priority incidents such as car fires and medical calls.
Louder said he hopes his district can avoid closing any of its stations and is recommending the Board of Supervisors place a parcel tax on the November ballot to raise revenue needed to maintain key services.
"I think it's very unfortunate...all of us want to provide the best quality service and protection to the community as we possibly can, and we're hoping to be successful with the measure so that we don't experience the same thing East Contra Costa is going through," Louder said.
The chief said Contra Costa Fire authorities also voted last month to cap the amount of aid to the neighboring Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection
District and to the Pinole Fire Department, which each closed stations earlier this year.