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Palo Alto firefighters push law to prevent layoffs
Original post made
on Mar 17, 2010
Palo Alto's firefighters union is spearheading a new ballot measure that would keep the city from reducing the staffing levels at the Fire Department without voter approval.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 2:02 PM
Posted by jake
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2010 at 2:35 am
It would be nice if the facts were presented and then the powers at be could make informed decisions. I see a lot of comments posted here that appear to rely on information presented by the City Manager or the local papers, most of it is simply not fact.
First off, while most every department in the City grew through the years, the FD did not. It actualy got smaller while other departments exploded and added managers. Now after the FD took deep cuts, fewer firefighters in Palo Alto than in the early 1970's.
The number of calls has increased from about 1,000 or 1,500 then to almost 8,000 today. How many other departments had an increase in service demand in the 600% levels? So now every department is expected to take the same level of cuts? did the fire dept increase in size and staffing like the other departments? NO.
The City is also not telling the public that Downtown Palo Alto often has no firefighters or paramedics in the Downtown area. FireHall 1 is often vacant, it's crews are somewhere else in the City or outside the City all together on another emergency.
Gambling with life and property is taking place right now by your elected officials and City Manager. Most of the calls are in the downtown area but it has almost no resources in the FireHall.
The firefighters will tell you if asked that the Menlo Park FD is being sent into Palo Alto all the time because the PA firefighters are on another call. Often PA has firefighters in another FireHall that are actualy closer but the PA City Hall people would rather send Menlo Park instead, forget the fact that PAFD still has closer units. Maybe the City Manager is trying to manipulate the number of calls by sending Menlo Park to keep increases in calls from being handled by a PAFD unit? Justify cuts by reducing statistics? I would be very upset to say the least if my condo was burning or a family member was sick and I found out the closest FireHall crew was not being sent but another agency all together from farther away was used. Firefighters will tell you that this happens everyday, year after year. Menlo Park and Mountain View employees are being sent to emergencies in Palo Alto even though PA has crews in FireHalls that are closer and could respond faster. It's simply a crime and the public has no idea it's happening. Palo Alto is obviously trying to
fix the books by keeping PAFD response numbers from increasing any faster than they are.
The City Manger or Council will also not tell you the the Fire Dept recovers much of its operating budget back by fees, paramedic ambulance billing of insurance companies for transports, and the fact that Stanford University pays about 1/3 of the PAFD budget because the PAFD protects Stanford University, it's campus housing and faculty residents and staff, SLAC, etc. The City Manager does not tell anyone that because that won't sell papers, or support his proposed cuts. How many other City Depts recover such a large percent of their operating budget? The facts are there, the PAFD reduced it's size through the years, less firefighters on duty in PA than in the 1970's, less Chiefs and less managers. Many other City Departments are much bigger than they were in the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. How did they justify their growth? but now they want everyone to take equal or greater cuts. The City Manger will also not tell you that having the FireHalls staffed by crews on 24 hour shifts saves the City money. If the firefighters worked 8,10 or 12 hour shifts the City would need to hire additional firefighters and paramedics.
Overtime is also being made out to be the firefighters doing, it's not if you ask the powers at be. The City Manager and the City Council have been staffing units for almost 20 years, 365 days a year with overtime. Instead of providing proper staffing they order firefighters to work overtime to staff programs and units that the City Manager and City Council put into service. But those same people will blame the firefighters in the firehalls. The firefighters did not decide to staff units using overtime, the City of Palo Alto did. Again, is that to give the papers salary data that is higher? so the City can say "look at how much some of those firefighters are making"? It seems like bad managing to constantly staff everyday units with overtime paid firefighters.
Don't blame the people in the firehalls, they did not direct units to be staffed with overtime everyday.
Is it just me or does it seem that many people are writing that they don't have a benefit or they lost something so they think everyone else should not have it either. Workers are taking a beating in many areas of the economy but is that really the blame of public workers? firefighters? when the economy was doing great years ago how many people were voicing their opnion about out of control Silicon Valley perks and salaries? How many Xmas's, 4th of Julys, Thanksgivings do they work every year? their kids weekend games? etc.
I would like to see the City Manager and City Council explain why they use Menlo Park and Mountain View firefighters to run emergencies in Palo Alto instead of using Palo Alto FD firefighters and paramedics? makes no sense, a 10 year old would most likely see that. Do the people who live and work in the downtown area know that the FireHall on Alma is often empty? the paramedics and firefighters may be on an ambulance in Mountain View or San Jose at the hospital.
But again, the City Manager wants to make deep cuts, regardless of the facts about revenue collections or public safety impacts.
How much bigger is the City Mangers office staff than it was 5,10,15,25,35 years ago? The City Manager won't even talk about those facts, ask the people in the FireHalls. They will tell you that almost everyday the Menlo Park FD or Mountain View FD is handling emergencies inside Palo Alto. That is because the PAFD is handling so many 911 calls that they don't have anyone to send or because the City Manager and City Council are not making sure the 911 dispatchers are sending closer PAFD units. Is that so they can say the PAFD number of emergencies are not increasing that fast?
Again, why can't the Palo Alto FireHalls be sent to emergencies that they are closer to? again ask the people in the FireHalls. They will tell you that the Fire Chief, and Council have been told about this situation but are not doing anything to ensure that the closest crew from a Palo Alto FireHall is being sent to the emergency.
Give the real facts about number of emergencies to 911 in Palo Alto, number of units, historical growth and cuts in Palo Alto City departments, how much has the FD already been reduced? what will happen to response times for paramedics and firefighters? who is responsible for staffing units with overtime everyday? and why are the firefighters being blamed for overtime when it is clearly not their decision? Then let the voters decide, if they want to shutdown the FireHall by their home or office then give them the facts first and then see what happens. Something stinks, stinks bad. The City of Palo Alto directing that another Cities firefighters be sent into Palo Alto instead of a closer Palo Alto FireHall seems odd to say the least? I'm just glad I don't live or work in downtown Palo Alto.
Having that area go without any firefighters or paramedics for so many times seems like an accident waiting to happen.