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Fire concerns dominate PA budget approval

Original post made on Jun 12, 2007

Saving $140,000 by reducing staffing at Fire Station 8 in the fuel-laden Palo Alto foothills dominated the discussion of a 'disciplined' $139-million 2007-08 city budget Monday night.

Read the full story here Web Link

Comments (19)

Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2007 at 1:38 pm

Mr. Benest,

You take the firefighters from Station 2 and put them at the foothill station for 12 hours. Now you have no staffing at station 2 to response to calls in that part of the city during the 12 hours. Brilliant.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2007 at 4:27 pm

Will this closure effect the fire insurance premiums of properties in that area? Will it increase the response time to accidents?Perhaps we can take the money from the hamster wheel power projects and the Sister City projects and the travel to league meetings and put it into public health and safety where it belongs.
How about a poll asking which activities the people would be willing to defer just to keep full health and safety coverage? I am ashamed that we even have to ask. 35 years ago I felt that Palo Alto should be reduced to a Municipal Service District with designated powers. Nothing in the years since has change my mind.

Posted by Rick, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2007 at 8:57 pm

The city needs to build a new fire station somewhere up along the ridge line of Page Mill Rd. There are thousands of public lands up there that need protection in the dry months. Siting should be no problem with all of this public land available.]

That area needs 24 hour protection. It could easily take 20 minutes to get up there because of the steep road, even from Foothills Park.

The Open Space District could share the cost as they own most of the land and promote hiking everywhere up there. They probably collect $20 million anually and most is spent on administrative costs (super high salries for 7 vice presidents and super generous benifits and golden parachutes when retiring. They have a few pickups with small water tanks on them to cover their 35,000 acres of land.

The real issue is whether or not the people of Palo Alto really care if the area burns. I suspect that 90% of the people doen't know that area of Palo Alto even exists. None of my neighbors know that a Open Space District exists. There are no articles or meeting notices written about it.

Posted by A resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2007 at 8:54 am

The City of Palo Alto is not to blame for the cutbacks at Fire Station 8 in the hills. It is the firefighters' union who refuse to cooperate with the City by allowing cutbacks at other fire stations in the City. This would allow for firefighting personnel to be available for Station 8.

Instead the union wants the City to hire additional full time firefighters or service Station 8 with senior fire fighting personel on overtime, this is hugely expensive.

It is time for the firefighters' union to cooperate and compromise with the City instead of fleecing the City for every penny they can.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2007 at 9:32 am

The city signed the contract that grants employees this power. They were idiots then as now. Perhaps it is time to require government employees to chose between a union contract and civil service protection, either/or. At any rate, shut down city hall elevators and use the savings to man the station.

Posted by bruce, a resident of University South
on Jun 13, 2007 at 11:12 am

Mr. Wallis. In the first year City Mgr., Frank Benest was hired, he ran a poll asking residents to rank city services in order of importance. (I've forgotten how the voters were chosen, but it was supposed to be a random one.) About 300 responded and their choices ranked. Fire and Police got almost unanimous first place ranking. As I recall, City Pages was near the bottom. I searched the PA web site, but I could not find the results archived. Maybe you'll have better luck. Or check the city clerk's office for a copy of the poll.

The PADN also asked the same questions shortly thereafter and any resident could participate. I think this was on-line and you could only respond once. Interestingly the results were almost identical. Maybe the PADN has this in their archives, but again I couldn't find it.

Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 13, 2007 at 4:33 pm

To A resident,

How about we take the closet fire station to your home and shut it down for 12 hours a day. Are you willing to "roll the dice" that you or your neighbors will not need the services of the fire dept during that 4 month span?
The city just had a fire fatality last week during noon time.

How come Frank won't close the fire station next to his home for 12 hours a day?

Posted by aw, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2007 at 5:58 pm

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection runs three fire stations on Skyline within just a few miles of Palo Alto - Saratoga Summit, Kings Mtn and Skylonda. Has anyone explored contracting with CDF to cover the Foothills?

Posted by A Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2007 at 7:18 pm

Tim, Station 8 in the Hills can be manned by two or three firefighters. One firefighter can be taken from each of three different fire stations, that is not going to close down any existing fire stations.

And yes, I wouldn't mind one of the fire stations near me being closed because we have ample fire fighting ability in Palo Alto. This will not happen because the Union won't let it happen.

Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 13, 2007 at 10:50 pm

A Resident,

You need to do your homework before you talk about a subject. I have. You need 3 firemen on each truck. One to pump/operate the truck and two do go into the burning building- this is a OSHA law.
Maybe it would be good for you to visit a fire station before you post something you know very little about.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 14, 2007 at 9:44 am

Perhaps Frank or someone can tell us what is more important than fire, health and safety benefits that the foothill station protects.
I have to concur with the three man rule, one to help and one to yelp as the saying goes.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2007 at 7:18 am

"Perhaps Frank or someone can tell us what is more important than fire, health and safety benefits that the foothill station protects."
Ask a silly question - "Palo Alto OKs new environmental coordinator position" Total cost $181,000.00.
My gast is flabbered. This has to be the most outrageous misuse of city authority in a long line of excrescences. Grease up the tumbrils. Mayor Kishimoto, for shame! Palo Alto, more the shame for giving authority to this bunch.

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2007 at 7:27 am

Here is the article about the council's approving the funding of a new enviornmental position vs funding the fire station:

Web Link

Totally amazing...

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2007 at 8:50 am

Notice how the article mentions that this was done "quietly". I am sure that had the public known about this there would have been an outcry.
Typical M.O. for our city council--late night under the table deals without the public knowing until it is too late.
Shame on the city council for going along with this and double shame on Mayor yoriko for ignoring pressing problems in order to push on with her pet project. Clearly if it is not climate change ( or occasionally whining about traffic) or mayor does not care.

Equally disturbing is the fact that Emily Harrison will apparently stay on working for the city despite her malfeasance--another issue our mayor and city council have failed to deal with

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2007 at 1:25 pm

The council & city manager were able to make the trade off of staffing a fire station vs the environmental position... in seems like they put as lower priority other items as well: storm drains, police station, library upgrades, and the list goes on and on.

Another highly paid position, especially when you add in retirement benefits, etc. Where are the council members' priorities?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Was it Kermit who [what] sang "It ain't [sic] easy being green."?

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2007 at 5:35 pm

As with most issues dealing with the budget there is one key point. GROSS MISMANAGEMENT of PUBLIC FUNDS!!!

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2007 at 6:19 pm

Well since I am back, here goes. Ok in responce to The Firefighters union ie; the firefighters fleecing the citizens. The only fleecing in the department is by the Fire administration ie; The chiefs. Way to many Chiefs doing nothing or mismanageing public funds when they do, do something. Chief are not part of the union. #1 The firefighters union has very little power,close to powerless.Huge problem with a couple of members misleading/misguideing the public and the City Counsel #2 Being staffed by "Senior firefighting personal" is incorrect. Overtime is on a rotational list. If no personal can be found to work this overtime. Personal will be ordered in. Starting with the least senior personal.. This has happened far to many times. #3 In some cases as with a "Seasonal Station" it is much cheaper to pay overtime for the short period of time that the station is open,then to pay full time employees when you do not need then most of the time. Cost of the benifits. #4 There is no place to cut. 3 people on a fire engine is the minimum, 1 to run the pump,2 to fight fire. No less is safe or effective. #5. Please do not lump the Fire Department into one group.. The Indians are not to blame. Try pointing your finger at the chief..

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2007 at 11:25 pm

Oh forgot 1, The CdF station's. The closest one is on skyline.Closest P.A station is on hannover. That makes for a lot of area in the middle. Most calls to these areas need moe than 1 unit,which would make for very,very long eta's.To be able to use the helicoppter you need units on the ground to control and ready a LZ, landing zone. The C in CDF stands for California,which means that these units can respond to wildland fires all over the state. Meaning you can not bet on them to be there. Now lets see,ask someone who has had there home burned down.Maybe someone who has had a bicycle,motorcycle,car,fall or any other type of accident in these areas.. Good try Frank

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