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Budget and Fire Station 8

Original post made by David on Mar 18, 2010

A possible budget saving could come to the City of Palo Alto if they would consider a cooperative agreement with the State of California.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), also known as Cal Fire, needs to relocate two of their existing stations due to septic/wastewater requirements and their current stations proximity to reservoirs/drinking water. Their two stations in limbo are Alma (along Hwy 17 near Lexington Reservoir) and Stevens Creek (on Stevens Canyon Rd near Steven Creek Reservoir). The State is looking for a location site in the northern part of the SCU unit to relocate their Stevens Creek station.

Existing practice - Palo Alto Fire Station 8 at Foothills Park is currently been staff for 120 days per year on overtime. The department pulls staff off their regular station/engine, sends them to the foothills and backfills these three slots with overtime. Fire Station 8 is staffed for 12 hours per day, 8 am to 8 pm. The engine 8 crew drives from Fire Station 5 on Arastradero Rd where the wildland engine is kept for night responses. Staffing station 8 starts on or near July 1st and extends for 120 days or until the first significant rainfall (end of October).

Possible solution - Lease Palo Alto Fire Station 8 to CDF/Cal Fire with an agreement for local response to the Palo Alto foothills during wildland fire season. Palo Alto Fire backfills the station with their personnel and equipment when the CDF/Cal Fire engine is dispatched out of the unit/area. There would still be overtime incurred by Palo Alto Fire, but could be significantly less than current practice.

The city saves money with the Fire Department's overtime, CDF/Cal Fire can keep an engine in the northern part of their unit, and the foothill residents and visitors to the parks have a station that is staffed for 24 hours a day for the true declared fire season, not just 120 days per year on 12 hour days.

I'm sure this is controversial to the fire union, but it is an idea worth considering.

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