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Fire and emergency services consolidation proposal

Original post made by Peter Carpenter, Atherton, on May 26, 2011

I am a long time advocate of consolidation as a way of increasing both efficiency and effectiveness of public services. Given the challenges facing local governments now is the time to think boldly.

I propose that we form a MidPeninsula Fire Protection District that would provide fire protection and emergency services to Palo Alto, Stanford, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton and adjacent unincorporated areas. At some later stage contiguous jurisdictions both north and south would be invited to join this fire district. I am confident that such an agency could both increase the current service levels and decrease the cost per citizen of these services.

What is needed? Leadership by elected officials who are willing to look across the county line, creative thinking by the fire professionals, advocacy by concerned tax payers and information from the press on the pros and cons of such an undertaking.

Comments (5)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2011 at 11:59 am

Love this idea, Peter.

Unfortunately, I doubt if our elected officials are interested in anything that looks as sensible a solution as this.

Like this comment
Posted by RadioGuy
a resident of Barron Park
on May 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm

RadioGuy is a registered user.

By far, my neighbors and I are happy with the service of the Palo Alto Fire Department. We have an excellent basic and advanced life support program in our city, in addition to a terrific rescue and fire fighting capability. While there are some savings that could probably be realized by merging departments, they would not address the fundamental issue facing the cost structure of our fire services. These are the same issues facing other cities throughout the country. As the recent dissolution of the Belmont/San Carlos fire services shows, mergers are not a panacea.

If our elected officials believe that closing our local fire station or merging with Menlo is a good idea, we'll actively work to remove them from office. I'm sorry to be so direct, Peter, but you seem to have a hard time taking "no" for an answer.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm

RadioGuy - Great that your satified with your current service but note that the City Manager has made clear that Palo Alto can no longer afford to continue to provide that level of service. I am offering a better alternative (equal or better service levels at lower per capita cost) - feel free to oppose my proposal but recognize that the alternative is not the status quo.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2011 at 10:45 am

I would add Los Altos and Mountain View to the mix. PAFD already shares the larger equipment with MV already (ladder trucks, etc.). Plus PA, MV and LA have just agreed to share the call center services.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 31, 2011 at 10:49 am

Crescent Park Dad states:"I would add Los Altos and Mountain View to the mix."

I agree. Ultimately one single agency could well and economically serve the entire peninsula - everything south of San Francisco and north of San Jose. Practically we need to start somewhere and PA and MPFPD would be a good starting point.

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