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Palo Alto to close fire station that services SLAC

Original post made on Apr 9, 2012

A Palo Alto fire station that has been providing service to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory for close to four decades will be shut down at the end of this month, the Weekly has learned.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 9, 2012, 12:24 PM

Comments (96)

Posted by Raymond Lucas, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm

All cost cutting measures are fine until there is an emergency and resultant loss of life.


Posted by Menlo-Seems-Cheaper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm

> will close later this month because of a decision by SLAC to seek
> fire-protection services from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

This is a decision by the client, based on cost. What's missing from this story is the cost differences between Palo Alto and the Menlo Park Fire District. Since salary/benefits and overhead are the two main cost components to this sort of service, it would seem on face value that Menlo Park is a better deal for SLAC, which raises the question if there aren't better deals for Palo Alto--such as merging with other departments. Someone really ought to do a cost comparison between Palo Alto and Menlo Park Fire District to determine the cost profiles of each, and get that information into Palo Alto residents, and business owners', hands.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm

> This is a decision by the client, based on cost. What's missing from this story is the cost differences between Palo Alto and the Menlo Park Fire District.

I don't see that, at least in this case. SLAC's fire station will now be empty and coverage will be provided by existing MPFPD facilities. MPFPD obviously has a cost advantage for a completely different level of service than it's currently receiving from PAFD.

I have to wonder if Station 7's closure won't affect consolidation on the north side of Palo Alto. Now that Station 7 no longer has to be back-filled when 7 goes off SLAC's campus, Station 1 becomes the most poorly located, being almost adjacent to Menlo Park. Stations 2 and 5, although close "as the crow flies" are separated by the Stanford Research Park and the Barron Park neighborhood along Page Mill all the way to Arastradero. The only access through this area is along El Camino or Foothill. Of course, now that Arastradero is primarily a single lane between El Camino and Foothill, response time south of Arastradero would be horrible without Station 5.


Posted by Menlo-Seems-Cheaper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm

> I don't see that, at least in this case

The read the article. Of course, the City could have kept the Station 7 open--but since it is in Menlo Park this doesn't make any sense.

> SLAC's fire station will now be empty

Do you mean Station 7, which belongs to Palo Alto? There is no reason that the building can not be sold to recover costs for the taxpayers.

> Station 7 received 169 calls in 2009

What's missing in this article is how many calls for service were at the SLAC facility on a per year basis. Was this 169 calls all for SLAC, or were that for service not on the SLAC facility?

Given the equipment and size of SLAC, it's not hard to believe that every fire department from here to San Francisco would be needed to fight a big fire in the facility. Of course, if there were a lot of internal fire suppression equipment installed, maybe a big fire is not likely. Either way, SLAC should be responsible for its own safety plan, and the taxpayers of Palo Alto should not be subsidizing SLAC in any way.

Your description of how the closure of Station 7 will affect staffing and response time is interesting, but without a graphic, and data on daily calls for service at each station--you narrative is hard to follow.



Posted by lazlo, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm

So you have a another city department in disarray thanks to the Keene and Klein circus and it becomes apparent why SLAC has chosen to hire a fire department with a real fire chief (not a cop filling in and pretending to be a firefighter). Menlo Park offers a stable workforce and doesn't have nearly the the dysfunctional city government that Palo Alto seems to take pride in while the exodus of Palo Alto employees continues.


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

"The chief driver, he said, was cost savings."

Merger or consolidation with adjoining fire districts is often a wise & prudent choice. I sincerely hope our City fully & promptly examines such possibility now.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The longest boundary that Palo Alto shares with any other local jurisdiction is the one it shares with the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. A merger of PAFD and MPFD would save millions in overhead and IMPROVE the quality of service to all of the covered communities.

What is needed ? - political courage.


Posted by E. Pease, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2012 at 9:48 am

>> SLAC's fire station will now be empty

>Do you mean Station 7, which belongs to Palo Alto? There is no reason >that the building can not be sold to recover costs for the taxpayers.

The building is on Stanford land so even if the building belongs to the Palo Alto Fire Department (though I suspect if belongs to the University and provision of a building was part of the contract) it can't just be sold unless someone is willing to move it. The equipment probably belongs to the Fire Department. The same probably applies to Fire Station 6 on the campus proper.


Posted by Menlo-Seems-Cheaper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

> The building is on Stanford land so even if the building belongs
> to the Palo Alto Fire Department (though I suspect if belongs
> to the University

Anything is possible. If the contracts were posted on the City's web site, then we would all be able to read them and know for certain.

Unfortunately, that's not how the City operates most of the time. They have posted some of the employee contracts/MOUs, but not other contracts which involve the details of the closed door deals approved by the Council, and Staff.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm

This is not new information - the Feds have been working on slashing the SLAC budget for over a year, including layoffs and cutting back in many areas. The operation is no longer very robust so they do not need full time fire support.
Peter Carpenter keeps talking about "millions in savings" if PA and MP combined fire services. That would seem to make sense for MP park but where would the PA savings come from? PA already has low overhead (very few admin positions) and they benefit greatly by providing ambulance services (helps subsidize the Fire program). Perhaps service would improve - but that could already be better if MP would simply call PA during emergencies - it seems stupid that they call Belmont before PA for multi alarm fires.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"where would the PA savings come from?"

One Fire Chief instead of two.
Three Battalion Chiefs instead of six.
One less fire station given the exiting overlap.
Combined training and code enforcement.
Lower admin and hr costs.

Etc, etc, etc......


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm

"One Fire Chief instead of two.
Three Battalion Chiefs instead of six.", etc.

This is a situation where I agree with Peter.

Economies of scale make a lot of sense.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Peter -

Great, but it is not real - at least for PA.

PA already does not have a Fire Chief

also

After closing the SLAC station (already a done deal) there are no reasonably close "overlap" stations to close - Stanford has to stay open as does the PA downtown station.

also

PA has alteady cut back on Admin positions - they share functions with Police

So it seems you want to merge a relatively efficient PA operation with a somewhat less efficient MP operation - MP would benefit greatly while PA would not benefit nearly as much.

Perhaps MP


Posted by Menlo-Seems-Cheaper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm

> PA has alteady cut back on Admin positions - they share
> functions with Police

As they should. And if there were mergers with other, local, public safety agencies, there could be even more savings. Most of the records keeping can be done on a computer these days. There really is no need for typists, or people to file.

A merger with the MP department, or the Mountain View department, would be a good idea for the taxpayers, and the departments, which would be forced to move into the 21st Century to make these slimmed-down organizations work.


Posted by Peterfcarpenter@gmail.com, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm

If you fully burden the PAFD budget you will find that it includes part of the current police/fire chief's salary and significant allocations of administrative costs. In contrast MPFD's budget is already fully burdened.

When fully burdened budgets are compared then MPFD's cost per individual served is lower than PAFD.


Posted by Eric, a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Lest we not forget the Fire Departments of Menlo Park and Palo Alto are in two different counties and not a real easy merge.


Posted by Menlo-Seems-Cheaper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm

> the Fire Departments of Menlo Park and Palo Alto are in two
> different counties and not a real easy merge.

And why would this be? Are there laws on the books that make it difficult? If so, what laws? If not--what exactly would be the problem?

> When fully burdened budgets are compared then MPFD's cost
> per individual served is lower than PAFD.

Before anyone can get excited about this, one has to look at how "burdening" is done. In Palo Alto, the SAP Computer system software is added to the individual department burden. There are also other issues, such as "unpredictable" pension contributions, which involve the average number of years at which employees retire.

Keep in mind, Palo Alto is over twice the size of Menlo Park in terms of population, land and general government services. The Fire Protection District only provides fire/EMS services, ans so it doesn't have all of the other overhead of the larger municipal agencies. That said, ridding ourselves of all of this seemingly unnecessary overhead should be the goal of all government entities in the coming years.

While Carpenter's comments might be true--it takes a lot of work to understand why.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Note that MPFD serves Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and about 30,000 residents in unincorporated areas - in total a much larger service area in terms of physical size and population than Palo Alto.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Some specifics:

MPFD serves almost 100,000 people and has a totally burdened budget (include land and building costs for its fire stations, etc) of about $31 million.

PAFD serves about 65,000 people and has a partially burdened budget of $30 million.


Posted by Menlo-Seems-Cheaper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm

> PAFD serves about 65,000 people and has a partially
> burdened budget of $30 million

Actually, the PAPD also services Stanford, which has another 25,000+ people on-site, buildings and homes during the day. In total, it comes to about 100K people also. In addition, PAPD has a number of Mutual Aid agreements, which increases the scope of its operations--when necessary.

No doubt the Menlo Fire District also has these sorts of Mutual Aid agreements--which would increase its service area also.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I would like to see an honest comparison - the numbers PC displays are distorted. For example -

PA has as many people as MP and EPA combined as then Stanford has another 25000 (faculty and students). If there really are 30K of people covered by MP in unicorporated areas then the two populations are nearly identical.
also
If you look at the budgets - the PA net budget is about $16 million (net of revenues) versus the $30 million plus budget for MP.

And it is true that the County medical protocols would limit the merger ability. It would make more sense for MP to merge with RWC and PA to merge with other agencis in Santa Clara.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford University's payments for fire protection services ($8.7 million) and paramedic fees ($2.0 million) mean that PAFD's budget for serving 65,000 PA residents is about $19 million or about $292/person.

MPFD's cost per person is about $310 but that includes the cost of the land and buildings used by the Fire District.

Both entities see substantial day time population increases and both have mutual aid agreements.

The benefits of consolidation would come from the elimination of duplicated overhead positions and the elimination of at least one redundant station given the location of the existing stations.






Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Some data showing the economies of scale in fire service consolidations:


San Jose Fire Department
Serves a population of 1,006,892 and an area of 205 square miles.
$153,900,000 (OH allocation???)
$153 per capita


Orange County Fire

The Orange County Fire Authority is a regional fire service agency that serves 22 cities in Orange County and all unincorporated areas. The OCFA protects over 1,400,000 residents from its 61 fire stations located throughout Orange County. OCFA Reserve Firefighters work 10 stations throughout Orange County.

$263,952,650 (09/10)
$188 per capita


SacMetro
Serves nearly 640,000 citizens over a 417-square-mile area, serving Sacramento & Placer counties including the City of Citrus Heights and the City of Rancho Cordova.

Historically, Metro Fire represents 16 former fire agencies, some of which were founded more than six decades ago. Today, Metro Fire is the seventh-largest fire district in California with 42 strategically located fire stations.

$148,269,642 total expenses
= $231 per capita


Also see this Grand Jury report:

Web Link


Posted by Menlo-Seems-Cheaper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm

> And it is true that the County medical protocols would
> limit the merger ability

Why should there be any difference between "medical protocols" (whatever they are) between counties? Wouldn't it be better to simply impose a state-wide "protocol", which would remove this sort of stumbling block for possible mergers/consolidations?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" And it is true that the County medical protocols would limit the merger ability"

No. Note that Sac Metro already serves areas in two different counties.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm

"No. Note that Sac Metro already serves areas in two different counties."

Wrong!

Of course it would be better if all of the counties had the same protocols, but the fact is they are currently different between SM and SC counties. I am all for changing that but it still needs to be fixed before any mergers could happen. Stop blowing smoke and take a look.

Also the PA budget had a chart showing the cost of Fire to be about $190 per person - higher than SJ but lower than Santa Clara County. I am all for savings- but again I want to hear arguments with real numbers - not just figures that PC pulls out of the air.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

SacMetro serves nearly 640,000 citizens over a 417-square-mile area, serving Sacramento & Placer counties including the City of Citrus Heights and the City of Rancho Cordova.


All of my numbers come from published budgets - go check them out:

Web Link

Web Link

I suggest that Alphonso provide the source of his data - which is clearer wrong.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm

PA 2012 Operating Budget
Go to
Web Link

Look on page 124 for cost comparisons per person


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Good try Alphonso but the actual PA budget on that same page is, as I noted above, over $29 million. Even after taking out the Stanford portion it is still $19 million for 65,000 people or $292 per capita.

The chart that you referenced uses a totally different numerator - "net ... expenditures" without any explanation of that term.

But I am glad that at least you are looking at the right document - Palo Alto's budget.


Posted by Menlo-Seems-Cheaper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm

> Even after taking out the Stanford portion it is still $19
> million for 65,000 people or $292 per capita.

Yes, but these comparisons fail to fully tell the truth. Palo Alto has about 100K people here during the day time, as workers. There are also a few thousand at the Stanford Shopping Center, and thousands in the private schools that seem to pop up like bad mushrooms after a heavy rain.

The public safety people are required to service the Daytime and the Night time populations. The numbers Carpenter is quoting is just night time populations. And then there are the accidents that occur on Palo Alto streets (just like everywhere else) which are more often then not involving non-residents. In short, the population being serviced by any public safety department is almost impossible to determine, and the cost/per person (night time population) is pretty meaningless.

A wholly different method of computing cost of a public safety department is needed, which would produce a much more complicated answer than $$/person, which we have become accustomed to in the past.



Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

An excellent time to man the foothill station all the time. A fire station is not just for fires!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

All of the apples-to-apples comparisons say the same thing - mid sized fire agencies cost about $300 per capita. Larger, right-sized, fire agencies cost less than $200 per capita.

All of the comparison agencies see daytime population increases and all have accidents and all have mutual aid agreements.

Nice to wish for better data but the facts are what they are so we have deal with them.


Posted by Menlo-Seems-Cheaper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm

> but the facts are what they are

While the data is what it is, there is no reason to go forward on metrics that have a faulty underpinning.

It is obvious that merging government departments will reduce obvious organizational redundancies. For that matter, it might pay to look at merging all of San Mateo County and all of Santa Clara County, at some point, which would then provide a large enough pool of residents/workers/taxpayers/workers to make the $$$/person metric more meaningful than it currently is.

And with these very different $$$/person for fire/EMS protection--we still don't have any analysis as to why there is so much difference, other than average salaries/benefits--which are often hard to find in fire department budgets. The data can be located, but few public agencies seem willing to tell the public the truth about the financials of their departments.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"it might pay to look at merging all of San Mateo County and all of Santa Clara County, at some point, which would then provide a large enough pool of residents/workers/taxpayers/workers to make the $$$/person metric more meaningful than it currently is."

I agree - the ideal would be everything north of San Jose and south of San Francisco. The two big cities simply won't play ball on this. San Jose did not even have mutual aid agreements until after the Santa Row fire.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

See:

Web Link


Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I'm all for finding ways to make the safety depts of Bay area cities more efficient and affordable. I think it would be more effective if we focused on basics like salaries and staffing, not consolidation. We should be paying union fire safety employees a starting salary of around $40K per year, and it should max out at around $60 per year. Supervisors should make around $75K and an experienced chief should top out at $100K. We should eliminate all the games that the union folks play with overtime, sick leave abuse, pension spiking etc. The union employees should be converted to a 401k plan. They should not receive any retirement benefits until they turn 65. If they are fit and able to do the job pass annual tests) they can continue to work to 65. If they sit around and become out of shape slobs, they should be terminated immediately whether that is at 30 yrs or 65 yrs of age. I'm sure most union safety employees will survive by finding new careers like janitors, gardeners, cooks etc.

All of this seems pretty obvious and straight forward as a solution. But it isn't going to happen as long as you have the unions funding and hand picking their candidates for office. In Palo Alto we need to start be making sure politicians who are beholden to the government labor unions are removed. The first to go should be Gail Price, closely followed by Nancy Shepherd.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Properly done consolidation would remove the current union controlled local officials from the process. Given how much the unions spend the current local officials will always be union controlled.


Posted by Taxpayeriscrazy, a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm

For people who always complain and say "oh we should just pay them $40-60k. That's the national average", do they not realize that we are in California? Cost of living is much higher here. Housing is much higher.

How would you like to get paid the "national average" for your job?"

A high school graduate can become a clerk at a library and make around $40k. You're saying someone who must risk his life and undergo many hours of training should be paid the same?

Some people are just out of touch with reality.


Posted by In touch, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Hey Peter Carpenter, how do you benefit from this? Two different counties when it comes from Menlo and Palo Alto. The only benefits that come from consolidations is the employees! If Palo Alto goes anywhere it will go with Santa Clara County Fire or make a deal with Mt. View. It is much cheaper! After reading your posts and talking to the firefighters, Menlo Park Fire does not even do any training with Palo Alto Firefighters. I prefer to have local control over my fire department. All other cities in contract with other departments are stuck with them until the end of the contract! You live in a fire district. If SLAC is not happy with Menlo Park's service there stuck with it. Why don't you worry about Atherton and I'll worry about Palo Alto. You stay in you town and I'll stay in mine.
Oh by the way here is SAC Metro's map. The area you must be talking about is a no-mans land in Placer County. It's a long way from Menlo - Palo Alto border.
Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Why don't you worry about Atherton and I'll worry about Palo Alto"

That is what is called Lack of Vision my friend.

Thinking small will not solve this problem.


Posted by Voter, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I agree with taxpayer. Even if we need to pay a little more than he states, it won't be by much if any. Alternatives in the blue collar job market pay much less AND are much more taxing and dangerous than firefighting in general and in Palo Alto in particular (construction is statistically magnitudes more risky for example). When the taxpayers are footing the bill, public servants deserve what the market dictatand is market rate and nothing more, not what their union believes they can extract from Price, Shepard, and the other council members they have bought and paid for.


Posted by In touch, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Hey Peter, why are you not beating the drum to get rid of the Atherton Police Department? Why are you stuck on fire departments? Instead of making one or two different departments why not merge all 9 Bay Area Counties into 1. 1 police department and 1 fire department. I lived in New York City. Why not?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Hey Peter, why are you not beating the drum to get rid of the Atherton Police Department? Why are you stuck on fire departments"

You obviously haven't been reading my post on that topic:

Web Link


Posted by In touch, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Peter how about the 1 giant city? It was fun, I must go to sleep since I have to go work to support my family as a blue collar worker. I know, what a shock a blue collar worker living in Palo Alto. Well no fire fighters live here! Enjoy saving the world blogging on line. Maybe I'll check in if I have the energy tomorrow. Good night.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2012 at 9:24 pm


How many major fires have we had in Palo Alto in the last ten years?

None

The PAFD is bloated--we need to rationalize and re-engineer--merging with MP is a good step and we can reduce PAFD by 50%.

SLAC is a Federal project which is now redundant--close it

Stanford suffered for years from its link to SLAC-

We do not need SLAC for any scientific purpose-

SLAC is a white elephant and a very, very expensive door stop-


Posted by redro b, a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2012 at 10:32 am

Even tho' PA and MP have a long border, it's somewhat impenetrable, considering how few crossing points there are and how far apart they are.


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2012 at 10:41 am

"The PAFD is bloated--we need to rationalize and re-engineer--merging with MP is a good step ... "

+1; I agree in full here.


Posted by Fair Oaks, a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

"Hey Peter, why are you not beating the drum to get rid of the Atherton Police Department? Why are you stuck on fire departments"
You obviously haven't been reading my post on that topic.
------------------------------------------------------------
But Peter Carpenter's post on that topic is an article by somebody else. Does Peter Carpenter advocate merging the Atherton Police Department with the San Mateo County Sheriff or some other police department? When I lived in Atherton for nine months a long time ago I thought it was a good idea for Atherton to have its own police department.


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2012 at 11:28 am

"When I lived in Atherton for nine months a long time ago I thought it was a good idea for Atherton to have its own police department."

I lived in Atherton from 1959 to 1972; while I agree with your assessment of the police department, I believe times -- and finances -- have changed considerably. Peter -- and quite a few others -- are actively seeking to reduce costs wisely. There are likely quite a few ways to do so; but, rather than re-invent the wheel, I believe Palo Alto should actively study the process quite a few other municipalities have used: merger or consolidation.


Posted by William, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2012 at 11:35 am

> I think it would be more effective if we focused on
> basics like salaries and staffing, not consolidation

The cost of public safety in the Bay Area is significant, when all of the costs of all of the departments is considered. If one were to take the budgets for all of the departments in Santa Clara and San Mateo (just for a start), and make list of duplicate functions (Chiefs, Fire Commissioners, HR departments, IT departments, P/W departments, and so on) .. and then come up with a merged organization that just has one of each of these entities. The cost savings for this merged organization would be quite significant--especially when it is viewed from a per-decade basis.

A shake-down of the new organization would call for perhaps a number of assistant chief positions in each "district" that would replace the fire departments of the small towns that have become members of this larger organization.

There are many economies of scale that could provide new equipment, and capabilities for the merged organization--such as fully compatible communications equipment, the ability to buy in volume, perhaps receiving discounts that didn't exist for the smaller, independent, departments, and the ability to use more state-of-the-art fire detection hardware/software.

The possibilities for better service and lower costs are clearly possible. The headcounts for the total department would, over time, be expected to decrease--allowing for further cost reductions.

Increasing salaries are always going to be an issue. Long-term, we need to be looking at ways to reduce the number of structure fires by various means--such as using sprinklers in residential dwellings. It is also not hard to believe that over time, collisions-avoidance hardware/software will become part of new car standard equipment, so that the number of accidents goes down too.

Yes--we should be considering consolidation for all Bay Area public safety operations.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

". Does Peter Carpenter advocate merging the Atherton Police Department with the San Mateo County Sheriff or some other police department?"

Here is just one of my many postings on this issue:

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 25, 2010 at 7:29 am

Since Atherton could get BETTER quality police services from outsourcing at HALF our current cost there is no rational reason not to outsource. We could retain all of the current honest, hard working officers and have immediate access to better backup and a broad range of highly specialized police services. Our costs would be paid in full each year and there would be no follow on pension shortfall payment calls by CalPers. Our officers would have dramatically better training and promotion opportunities. And if we still wanted more coverage or services we could add those and still be well below our current cost per capita for police services.

The Town's fundamental budget shortfall could be completely eliminated by this simple solution.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Were Palo Alto to consolidate, we would have less to say about the quality and quantity of PA services.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Were Palo Alto to consolidate, we would have less to say about the quality and quantity of PA services."

Not true - residents in the MPFPD get a MUCH better response from their elected Directors than they do from their individual cities (which have to deal with a much broader range of services and citizen concerns.)

Do you prefer to get your automobile serviced at a department store or by a specialist?


Posted by Myopic Eye, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm

The players are interchangable...wealthy resident, union member, clueless politician...as is the location...affluent town, expensive department, wasteful city hall...and the scenario...stop spending my taxes, consolidate frivolous jobs, show whose boss.

Whichever point of view you believe in, you've all forgotten there are "true" VICTIMS here. There are "real" humans whose jobs you all so callously and rudely mock. It seems, in many of your opinions, these employees aren't doing real work anyway. So, that makes it okay to speak so cruelly?

It's mind boggling that everyone nonchalantly brushes aside a person with a name, family and obligations losing his/her means of making a living because it's more important to expound a personal agenda. No one ever remembers that government employees pay taxes too. When you get a tax hike, they do too and probably have just as difficult a time figuring out how to adjust. It seems too, many citizens, the same ones that are government employees' neighbors, believe these people go to work knowing full well that they are "cheating" the public, by doing fake work, for outrageous amounts of money and most certainly are celebrating "sticking it" to the taxpayer.

Well, I'm pretty sure they're just like you and me. They go to work and deal with all the difficulties that might entail. They may like or dislike some parts of the job. Maybe some co-workers are hard to deal with. Some are lucky by somehow still feeling fulfilled in serving others. In any case, the work has to be done in order provide the basics of a home for a family...food...clothing...a roof. In fact, just like most of us, I bet they worry about it...constantly.

Here's the thing though, unlike you, they are maligned, villified and de-humanized without recourse...by...well...you in venues like this one. Do you see it as your constitutional right to do so? Maybe you even see it as justice, or a crusading obligation.

I'm guessing these government workers, who want to be productive members of society, live a decent life, hopefully give some nice things to their families...like college, don't understand why any of this is happening or being said about to them. I'm thinking they don't understand what exactly they've done that makes you hate them so much. Maybe they're wondering why you can't see they want the same things for their own people that you want for yours. Maybe their job isn't exactly what they thought it would be either, but believe they work hard and EARN their pay.

I believe above all the rhetoric, opinions, politics, what have you, the very simple fact is government worker, politician, community citizen, homeless person are all living, breathing, thinking, beings and by those virtues alone should be treated and spoken of with respect and dignity. Your taxpayer dollars didn't pay for you to treat others poorly. It's not your constitutional right to be hurtful or spiteful.

I also truly believe that a government employee, just like anyone who want to work, would rather expend his/her own tax dollars as a paycheck rather than as a welfare check to himself. How about you?




Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Employees of larger consolidated fire agencies are well compensated and have more training and promotion opportunities - what is the complaint? There may be fewer jobs but the purpose of a fire agency is not to be a jobs program but to provide a quality service in an efficient manner.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Peter C

Size alone will not solve all of the problems - Cal Fire is by far the largest in the State but is it really more efficient? You seem to have strong consolidation and cost saving ideas but you have also been in a position to effect change and nothing much has happened. You seem to argue the Unions and the small size of local agencies are the main problem. but as I see it the main problem is the Boards like the Menlo Park Fire Board simply is simply not very effective. Menlo Park could have consolidated with RWC years ago (as SC has done recently). Additionally MP could have been the model for pension reform - but again that has not happened either.
Perhaps it would be helpful to explain why your Fire Board has failed to take the necessary action to make MP Fire more efficient - why have you failed to make that happen? I am not playing a blame game but in order to move forward please more fully explain the reason for past failure in MP.



Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Alphonso - You have not been paying attention.

The MPFPD Board came out in support of consolidation years ago.

Resolution No. 1181-07
RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
DECLARING IT IS IN THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST FOR THE BOARD AND AFFECTED RESIDENTS TO
REVIEW AND CONSIDER ABROAD RANGE OF POTENTIAL CONSOLIDATION ALTERNATIVES TO
IMPROVE SERVICE AND REDUCE COSTS AND IT IS IN THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST TO ENCOURAGE
ALL OTHER ENTITIES IN SAN MATEO COUNTY THAT OPERATE FIRE AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL
SERVICE ACTIVITIES TO ADOPT ASIMILAR POLICY
The District Board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District finds and determines as follows:
(a) WHEREAS, on Wednesday August 15, 2007 the San Mateo County Local Agency
Formation Commission ("SM LAFCO") pursuant to California Government Code Sections 56430 and
56425 considered areport documenting a Municipal Service Review and Sphere of Influence update for
Menlo Park Fire Protection District ("District") and Woodside Fire Protection District; and
(b) WHEREAS, the SM LAFCO report analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of
consolidation or reorganization of the Menlo Park and Woodside Fire Protection Districts. The report
included the options of maintaining the status quo of two side-by-side Fire Districts or consolidating the
Menlo Park and Woodside Fire Districts; and
(c) WHEREAS, on September 18, 2007 the SM LAFCO presented the District Board with the
Municipal Service and Sphere of Influence Review; and
(d) WHEREAS, specific to the concept of consolidation, the Strategic Planning Commission of
the District Board recommended to the Board that it direct the Chief and District staff to draft aletter or
policy announcement to all elected officials and citizens of the local region to review and consider both the
positive and negative impacts of fire district and fire service consolidation.
In consideration of the foregoing findings and determinations,
IT IS RESOLVED by the District Board as follows:
1. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board declares that it is in the public's interest for
the District Board to carefully review and consider whether consolidation is adesirable action and, if so, the
available range of potential consolidation alternatives from the local to the County wide level in order to
improve service and reduce costs.
2. The District Board encourages all entities in San Mateo County that operate fire or
emergency medical services activities to adopt a similar policy towards the review and consideration of
consolidation options and to engage in intergovernmental and community dialogue so that all issues may
be explored openly and in solidarity.
3. The District Board wishes to emphasize that it currently has no predetermined position on
the merits of consolidation in general or any particular consolidation option in particular.
• I hereby certify that the foregoing is a full, true and correct copy of a resolution duly and regularly
adopted and passed at a meeting of the District Board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, San Mateo
County, California, held on the 16th day of October, 2007.

***************************************
And it has taking strong steps to restrain employee wages and benefits:

RESOLUTION OF THE MENLO PARK FIRE
PROTECTION DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPROVING
AMENDMENTS AND IMPROVEMENTS TO CURRENT DISTRICT PRACTICES
AND POLICIES AFFECTING SAFETY EMPLOYEES
WHEREAS, the labor agreement (hereafter "Memorandum of Understanding" or
"MOU") between the Menlo Park Fire Protection District (hereafter "District") and the Menlo
Park Firefighters' Association, IAFF Local 2400 (hereafter "Union"), expired on June 30, 2008;
and
WHEREAS, since June 30, 2008, the Union and the District have been unable to reach
agreement on a successor MOU; and following numerous invitations by the District to negotiate
a new contract, all of which were declined by the Union, necessary changes required the District
to declare impasse and impose terms and conditions of employment—including a $9,000 per
year increase to the District's contribution toward the health and welfare benefit plan for each
employee; and
WHEREAS, the Board strives to make sound and reasoned decisions regarding District
resources that properly account for current conditions and also ensure the District's ability to
provide quality and efficient service to the community in the future; and
WHEREAS, the following changes are made pursuant to the District's Labor Relations
Policy and Plan (attached as Exhibit A), as well as the District's Compensation Philosophy
(attached as Exhibit B), — for example, all changes are consistent with principles of fairness,
transparency, fiscal sustainability and accountability; and
WHEREAS, the Fire Chief has recommended that various District practices and
policies be amended and improved to ensure that the District is acting efficiently pursuant to
best practices; and
WHEREAS, the changes are designed such that no employee will see a reduction in
their gross hourly rate; and
WHEREAS, on September 21, 2011, the District invited the Union to meet and confer,
and sent a list of initial proposals that encompassed the issues covered by this resolution, for
purposes of negotiating a comprehensive successor MOU; and
WHEREAS, by letter dated September 29, 2011, the Union—through its legal
counsel—advised that the Union would "not resume negotiations with the District," and made
any negotiations contingent on the District proposing a salary increase; and
2
WHEREAS, the Union has previously declined numerous invitations to return to the
bargaining table to negotiate with the District; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors of the Menlo
Park Fire Protection District that the following provisions are effective immediately upon
adoption of this resolution:
Affirmation of District Policy
1. The District reaffirms its Labor Relations Policy and Plan (attached as Exhibit A),
as well its Compensation Policy (attached as Exhibit B). This resolution is intended to
implement these District policies.
MMBA Compliance
2. The District reaffirms its commitment to observe the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act
("MMBA"), and to meet and confer with labor regarding all matters within the scope of
representation. Notwithstanding the Union's refusal to negotiate—to date—the District invites
the Union to meet and confer concerning any impacts stemming from this Resolution.
Furthermore, all items in this resolution that are mandatory subjects of bargaining shall be
subject to future negotiation when the Union chooses to return to the bargaining table to
negotiate a successor memorandum of understanding.
Rank Structure
3. The District hereby adopts the following classifications for non-management
safety personnel:
Firefighter-Academy
Firefighter-Trainee
Firefighter-Probationary
Firefighter-EMT
Firefighter-Paramedic
Engineer-EMT
Engineer-Paramedic
Captain-EMT
Captain-Paramedic
Senior Inspector
3
All other job classifications covering fire suppression personnel are hereby deleted. Incumbents
in any classification which is deleted shall be re-classified in one of the foregoing classifications
according to their credentials. For example, Firefighters who hold paramedic certification shall
be classified as "Firefighter-Paramedic," Firefighters who possess a valid EMT certificate shall
be classified as "Firefighter-EMT," and so on. This rank structure facilitates the District's
elimination of separate pay premiums, consistent with its Labor Relations Policy and Plan.
Wages
4. The hourly rate schedules applicable to non-management classifications, and
monthly salaries for Battalion Chiefs and Division Chiefs, are set forth in Exhibit C to this
resolution. Any increases or decrease in the hourly rate and salary schedules shall be subject to
approval by the Board of Directors.
5. The Fire Chief shall "y" rate any incumbent who would otherwise suffer a base
wage reduction by virtue of this resolution.
6. The Fire Chief shall have the authority to establish regular pay periods, and to
declare any appropriate work period under Section 7K of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Unless
the Fire Chief institutes a different schedule, pay days shall be bi-monthly—on the 15th day and
the last day of each month.
7. Supplemental Earnings: All "Supplemental Earnings" (formerly referred to as
"Acting Pays") are set forth in Exhibit D attached hereto.
8. The eligibility of new hire firefighters (Firefighter-Academy, Firefighter-Trainee
and Firefighter-Probationary) for wages and benefits is set forth in Exhibit E attached hereto.
Health and Welfare Benefits
9. The Fire Chief shall maintain a simple health and benefit program that is
transparent and easily understood by the public. A summary of the benefits program is attached
hereto as Exhibit F.
10. Consolidation of Leave: In order to promote transparency and administrative
efficiency, the District shall phase out the multiple leave balances and implement a single Annual
Leave program for those ranks specified in paragraph 3. As part of the District's effort to
minimize long term fiscal liabilities, the annual leave cap for all 56 hour employees shall be 480
hours; for all 40 hour Senior Inspector employees, the cap shall be 320 hours. All annual leave
hours currently held by any employee in excess of the applicable cap will be cashed out. Details
regarding the program are included in Exhibit G attached hereto. All remaining Extended Sick
Leave (ESL) hours will be converted to 25% of their current balance and added to the
employee's annual leave bank (subject to the cap of 480), with any excess hours deposited to the
employee's PEHP account.
4
11. Retiree Medical Program: For current retirees already receiving a retiree medical
benefit, the benefit shall remain unchanged. For employees hired on or after January 1, 2012,
the District shall no longer make a separate contribution to retiree health. For current safety
employees, the Fire Chief shall implement a buy-out plan as set forth in Exhibit H attached
hereto. Current safety employees shall be required to select one of the options included in the
buy-out plan, and if they fail to make an election, amounts will be paid in cash.
12. Educational Reimbursement Program: The Fire Chief has sole discretion to
approve or deny reimbursement requests and to determine whether a particular training or class
is or is not beneficial to the District. The Fire Chief shall approve only such requests as the
Chief deems beneficial to the District.
Retirement
13. New Hires: The Fire Chief shall consider options for developing a "second tier"
retirement program for employees hired on or after January 1, 2012; the options to be
considered shall include both lower level defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans
(such as a 401k). The Fire Chief shall report his findings and recommendation to the Board.
14. Current Employees: Current employees shall pay 75% of any future increases to
the CalPERS employer contribution rate (over the current 25.821%), subject to any applicable
CalPERS rules or restrictions.
Miscellaneous Operational Issues
15. Holiday Work Schedule: There is no modified holiday work schedule for 56 hour
employees. Employees shall adhere to daily and weekly work schedules as determined by the
Fire Chief.
16. Senior Inspectors:
In order to improve the efficiency and increase the number of productive hours, the
work day for Senior Inspectors shall begin at 7:00 a.m. Each employee shall take a mandatory
staggered minimum lunch, which is unpaid, of thirty minutes. Paid exercise time for Senior
Inspectors is eliminated. Senior Inspectors are exempt from the Wellness Program.
17. In accordance with District needs and the corresponding organization of Station
responsibilities, the position of "adjutant" is hereby eliminated. The incumbent shall be
permitted to remain in this position until January 2, 2012.
18. The Fire Chief shall enforce a requirement that all emergency responders must be
able to return to the District within two hours. Current employees presently residing outside of
this requirement may be grandfathered in unless and until they change residences. All safety
employees hired on or after January 1, 2012, shall be subject to this requirement regardless of
current residence.
5
19. The Fire Chief is authorized to implement any practice that, in the Fire Chief's
discretion, enhances the delivery of services, creates efficiencies, improves accountability, or
enhances the health and safety of District personnel. These practices encompass, but are not
limited to: station bid cycles and rotations; assignments; selection of annual leave; trades;
prescheduled "back-fills;" and daily and weekly work schedules. The Fire Chief may implement
any provision encompassed within the District's September 21, 2011, proposal to "maximize
efficiencies in the work schedule." (This proposal is attached hereto as Exhibit I.)
20. The District confirms that it is not bound indefinitely by any provision in the
MOU that expired on June 30, 2008. With respect to future new proposals within the scope of
representation that are not encompassed by this resolution, the Union shall be given the
opportunity to meet and confer as required by State law. With respect to proposals for changes
to matters within the scope of representation encompassed by this resolution, the Union shall be
given the opportunity to meet and confer over impacts as required by State law. Except for
disciplinary appeals, the grievance procedure in the expired MOU is suspended unless and until
the parties reach formal agreement on a successor MOU that contains a grievance procedure.
Employees may continue to avail themselves of the grievance procedure set forth in Policy No.
305, unless and until that policy is amended. (A copy of the current policy is attached hereto as
Exhibit J.)
21. The Fire Chief shall revise the District's personnel and operational policy
manuals. These policies shall be subject to meet and confer, when required by law, but shall
not be subject to the District's impasse resolution procedure.
22. The Fire Chief is hereby empowered to take any actions necessary in the Fire
Chief's discretion to implement the terms of this resolution.
23. If any provision in this resolution is found to be invalid or otherwise
unenforceable, all remaining provisions shall remain in full force and effect. This resolution is
subject to amendment by the Board of Directors pursuant to District policy and State law.
I HEREBY CERTIFY that the above and foregoing resolution was passed and
adopted by the Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District at its special
meeting held on the 28th of October, 2011,


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm

So - nothing happened - how can you propose a consolidation with PA if you can not do it with RWC?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If you had ever been in a position of leadership Alphonso you would realize that it takes two parties to agree to a consolidation.

MPFPD has always been willing to consolidate. MPFPD led the way to the county-wide consolidation of all fire dispatching. MPFPD lead the way to county-wide dropping of boundaries so that the closest in-service unit always responds first regardless of local jurisdictional boundaries.

Alphonso - I have shown you concrete actions and all you can do is wring your hands. Get out of the far seats and do your part to effect change.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm

You still have not said what went wrong - San Carlos made it work in a much shorter period of time.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 11, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Alphonso - You are not paying attention. Facts are important. San Carlos didn't make "it work in a much shorter period of time."

San Carlos and Belmont were consolidated and then they parted company last year and San Carlos contracted out its fire services with Cal Fire.

MPFPD 'consolidated' with SLAC, a willing partner, in less than six months. The key is to have a willing partner. Unfortunately, because consolidation means greater efficiency, the unions often oppose consolidation and the ONLY people to oppose the MPFPD contract with SLAC were the unions. The good news is that the San Mateo County firefighters' union is strongly in SUPPORT of consolidation - it is the political leaders who lack the courage to move forward.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Peter - you are the one who is not paying attention - San Carlos consolidated with RWC. MP did not consolidate with SLAC - you just offered them a limited service contract.

Again RWC and SC consolidated and as I recall RWC and MP were working on consolidation but that failed. You say the SMC ff union strongly support consolidation - if that is the case what is holding you up? You are in a position to make it happen but nothing is happening


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 11, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Alphonso - I retired from the Fire Board last year so I am certainly not holding anything up. But while I was there the Board refused to give the firefighters any wage increases since 2008 - no other jurisdiction has held the line as long as that.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 12, 2012 at 9:59 am

Great! - but from what I can determine from the various web sites, the MP 2008 Fire rates are still higher than the 2011 PA Fire rates. The idea of merging is an interesting idea but I think we need to be realistic about the savings and it is important that the partners benefit equally. Based on what I see, PA for look for partners to the south (like MV) rather than MP.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:02 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the MP 2008 Fire rates are still higher than the 2011 PA Fire rates."

Data please, not references to unnamed sources. And what do you mean by Fire rates?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Getting back to the subject of this topic, I would note that, in a free market competition, MPFPD proved to be the best provider for the SLAC contract. SLAC certainly had all the facts regarding alternative bidders when they selected MPFPD.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:22 am

Look at the basic ff rate tables on the two web sites - the one for PA is easy to find while the one for MP is less transparent - here is the link for PA Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the MPFPD data -

Web Link

The amounts actually paid are listed under W2 Wages 2011

The current wage scale is in the 2006-2008 MOU MPFD 10 IAFF Local 2400

Given ALL the facts SLAC chose MPFPD


Posted by S.Coen, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Peter carpenter knows not what he is talking about in size of Menlo park,Atherton, EPA and county land. The City of Palo Alto covers an area of 50, yes I said 50 square miles. From the san Francisco bay all the way up to the Mountains along pagemill road to highway 35 along skyline. The palo Alto Fire Dept protects a city population of approx, 60,000 residents during the night and day BUT also has a daytime population of over 150,000 to 250,000 people who work either in the city , shop at our stores, and includes the students at Stanford University. As for the merger between Menlo Park and Palo Alto, well there is a very big difference. Although Menlo Park is a ok fire district, Palo Alto is by far a far experienced operating department with a highly qualified leadership with the current acting police chief of Dennis Burns and two newly appointed Deputy Fire Chiefs to lead this fire department into the future. We do not need Menlo Park. If anything a merger with Santa Clara County Fire District, which has a keen foresight and an excellent reputation would be a good blend.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

S. Cohen simply does not have the facts:

Palo Alto
As of the census of 2000, there were 58,598
people
23.7 sq miles


Menlo Park
As of the census of 2000, there were 30,785
people
17.4 square miles (45 km2)

East Palo Alto
As of the census of 2009, there were 35,791 people,
2.6 square miles (6.7 kmē),

Atherton
As of the census of 2000, there were
7,194 people
4.9 square miles (12.8 kmē)

Total for MP, EPA and Atherton is 24.9 vs PA's 23.9 (and that does not include the unincorporated areas also served by MPFPD.)

As for experience, MPFPD personnel responded to Oklahoma City, 9-11, Katrina, Challenger recovery and numerous other national disaster responses. MPFPD trains firefighters from around the world as well as from the Bay area. I leave it to S.Cohen to document Palo Alto's record.

Please bring facts to the discussion rather than wild assertions like 50 sq miles and a quarter of million people.

As for Palo Alto ever have 250,000 people in it, that is another of S. Cohen's fantasies.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm

"Given ALL the facts SLAC chose MPFPD"

I imagine the only important "fact" was that MP offered a reasonably close fire station - most calls are medical so you need a station within 4-6 minutes to save lives.


Posted by Peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Peter carpenter is a registered user.

Imagine what you want but SLAC chose MPFPD..

Learn to accept realiity.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:59 pm

The reality is the SLAC agreement with MP is not very important. Do you know how much annual revenue MP will get from the deal?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 13, 2012 at 7:33 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Do you know how much annual revenue MP will get from the deal?"

$408,000 - which is important because it saves SLAC a lot of money and because it more effectively uses existing MPFPD assets.

Unfortunately some people don't think it is important for the Federal government to save money or for local agencies to use their assets more productively.


Posted by S.Coen, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2012 at 11:04 am

Oh Peter, peter. You forget that the City of Palo Alto also takes in Stanford University and I -280 and all the way to skyline. Also if you contact the Santa Clara County Assessors office and the USGS you will learn something about the true square miles that Palo Alto covers. Oh and by the way, Menlo Park Fire District, which really is a ok run dept. no thanks to someone who is no longer on the board ( why is that) is also still having a severe legal battle between the firefighters and the Chief for not paying back the correct amount of money that these employee's are entitled too. Menlo Park was at one time a very good dept but that was years ago under a previous, Chief, Vincent del Pozzo, who was respected and honored. Thank goodness my fire department is the Palo Alto Fire Department. Our firefighters and the leadership work well together and are not suing our Chief about anything. Hey, the bottom line is that you are entitled to your views and I am entitled to mine. Chill out Peter. You can't be right all the time.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"if you contact the Santa Clara County Assessors office and the USGS you will learn something about the true square miles that Palo Alto covers"

S. Cohen needs to get her/his facts straight.

Here are the facts from the Palo Alto's own web site:

About Palo Alto

Located 35 miles south of San Francisco and 14 miles north of San Jose, Palo Alto is a community of approximately 61,200 residents. Part of the San Francisco Metropolitan Bay Area and the Silicon Valley, Palo Alto is located within Santa Clara County and borders San Mateo County.
The City's boundaries extend from San Francisco Bay on the east to the Skyline Ridge of the coastal mountains on the west, with Menlo Park to the north and Mountain View to the south. The City encompasses an area of approximately 26 square miles, of which one-third is open space.

******


Posted by Fair Oaks, a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Palo Alto Fire Department also is responsible for Stanford's 8,180 acres, or another 12.78125 square miles. I don't recall the daytime population of the campus, but I suspect it is about 20,000.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 14, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Palo Alto Fire Department also is responsible for Stanford's 8,180 acres, or another 12.78125 square miles. I don't recall the daytime population of the campus, but I suspect it is about 20,000."

Before loosing the fire protection responsibility for SLAC Stanford University's payments to Palo Alto for fire protection services ($8.7 million) and paramedic fees ($2.0 million) mean that PAFD's budget for serving 65,000 PA residents is about $19 million or about $292/person.


Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm

S. Coen, union fire employees in MP and PA are significantly over compensated and under worked. The tide has turned and the public is on to the shenanigans of the unions. I respect the MP folks for holding the line on costs. The unions are filing lawsuits and initiatives to try and get more from the taxpayers but they are losing almost every issue they put forward. It is up to us to remove the union funded politicians (Price and Shepherd) and try to get our cities back on to a path of fiscal sustainability.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm

" I respect the MP folks for holding the line on costs. "

Except of course the costs are higher in MP than in PA and nobody wants to merge with them. PA runs its own ambulance service which helps subsidize the rest the program and the plan is to add more ambulances - might as well be a full service provider especially considering most of the calls are medical. MP does not provide ambulance service - so it gets very little revenue. PA has reduced its Admin overhead but MP has not. Of course MP wants to merge with PA because MP is in worse shape than PA. PA would be better off looking south for partners - agencies interested in being partners - not just promoting hype.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

MPFPD has a balanced budget and almost no unfunded pension liability.

Anyone with financial expertise can see that MPFPD is in MUCH better shape than the City of Palo Alto.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The MPFPD budget is fully burdened - all of its expenses are shown in its budget. Its budget includes all its overhead, attorney costs, administrative services, financial services, human resources, land costs, building costs, interest costs, etc.

The PAFD budget does not include either its fair share (20%) of the city's overhead of $14 million, nor the cost of its fire stations and the land on which they stand. A fully burned budget would be something like $32+ million. After taking out the Stanford portion it is still $22+ million for 65,000 people or $338 per capita.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm

MPFPD has a balanced budget and almost no unfunded pension liability.

Web Link

Please take a look at the graph on page 6 of the attached MP budget report - do you see a balanced budget in any of the years presented? If spending is always higher than tax revenue I consider the situation unbalanced.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 14, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Alpo - you really like to play with the truth, but you don't do it very well because the facts are there for all to see. You are looking at projections for the next five years assuming no management intervention. Look at the last five actual years - no deficit.

That is what good management is all about - looking at the future and then changing it to ensure a balance budget.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 14, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

For example, here is the actual budget for 2011/12:

Web Link

Revenue $30,470,900

Fully burdened expenses $30,397,400

A surplus of $73,500

Alpo needs to go back to accounting class


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Alpo needs to go back to accounting class

Did you notice they needed to move $200K of legal costs to a different fund (shell game accounting) to "balance" the budget?

You say I am playing with the truth, but I am using your numbers - I am not making up anything. You have been the one playing games.

Earlier in the thread you told us MP covered more than 100K people - yet in the budget presentation it shows there are really less than 88K which of course means the REAL cost per person is about $350 per person - not the $310 figure you invented. You have some good ideas but there is too much hype and not enough honesty.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

When there are no hidden accounts, as is the case with the MPFPD budget, moving money from one fund to another doesn't change the bottom line.


Would Alpo like to get back to the subject of this topic - how MPFPD won the SLAC contract by having the best bid and PAFD lost its income from the SLAC station? That was an arms length transaction no doubt about the numbers or the facts.


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 15, 2012 at 11:57 am

Obviously, you do not know the difference between and fund and an account. Of course playing shell games with funds changes the bottom line


Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Obviously, you do not know the difference between a fund and an account. Of course playing shell games with funds changes the bottom line. Again too much dishonest discussion from MP.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Alpo - I think we have exhausted the side discussion (and probably the other readers) on MPFPD vs PAFD rather than the subject of this thread.

Congratulations to MPFPD for winning this contract with the best bid as judged by an arms length buyer.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Only an idiot would characterize the use a of less than 1% of carefully conserved reserves for the exact purpose for which those funds had been reserved as a shell game and only a
fool would characterize it as dishonest.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 15, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

For those interested in the facts regarding the MPFPD Reserves and their designation please see:

Web Link

You will note that the District has reserves of over $30 million - and all are properly designated and accounted for (in spite of ignorant comments to the contrary).


Posted by S.Coen, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2012 at 10:53 am

Oh Peter it's so fun to get you going. You just continue to fall into the trap. Get a life.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Apr 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

My life is great. Particularly when I can so easily silence those who come to a discussion without facts or logic.


Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm

S.Coen types ... "Oh Peter it's so fun to get you going. You just continue to fall into the trap. Get a life."

Nice try Coen. You tried to compete with some one who was willing to stick to the facts, and you were completely outclassed. Now you try and pretend like you "trapped" him. Nobody is fooled.


Posted by follower2be, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2012 at 11:02 pm

How much revenue does MPFD generate towards their budget vs. PAFD and their ambulance transport? An analysis would take into account the revenue generated by each department and ability to offset department expenditures? Likewise, how much revenue is generated by MPFD to run the training site off the dumbarton bridge? Revenue generated by fire department reduce General Fund impacts. "Fully loaded" departments have to pay for HR, Legal, Finance, costs. With MPFD, how many full time persons actually work on these issues?

Consolidation or mergers don't always lead to reduction in staff or chief officers. Span of control and back up chief officers are necessary with automatic aid and mergers. Cross county mergers don't work well due to EMS protocols, Mutual Aid regions, EOC Operational Areas, etc. Mountain View and Palo Alto is a better model for a merger than MPFD and PA.


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