Menlo Park fire district strikes deal with Facebook

Agreement calls for social-media giant to pay district up to $300,000 for improvements to aid fire protection

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District board voted unanimously on Tuesday to enter into an agreement between Facebook and the fire district that would provide expanded emergency and fire services for the company and for residents within the district.

The agreement is separate from one under development between the social networking giant and the Menlo Park City Council, which last week unanimously approved terms for an agreement that will allow Facebook to nearly double its current employee capacity from 3,600 people to 6,600 people.

About 2,000 people currently work at Facebook's Menlo Park office located at the intersection of Willow Road and Bayfront Expressway.

Under the agreement with the fire district, Facebook would provide up to $300,000 toward improvements and enhancements that would support Facebook and the community.

"This is a win for everybody," Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman

said. "I think there's a lot of positives that are coming that will be very good for the community."

Depending upon how much Facebook grows, it could provide up to $300,000, which would be used for traffic devices that would give emergency vehicles the right of way through traffic signals located on access routes leading to the campus and would fund safety-related projects, according to the fire district.

"We are very appreciative of the financial and community support

Facebook is providing to help support emergency response so the fire district can respond quickly in any emergency situation to the eastern areas of Menlo Park," Schapelhouman said.

If the company builds a new second campus at the Bayfront

Expressway site, it is projected to provide an additional $100,000 to $200,000 in annual property taxes to the district.

Schapelhouman said that Facebook would be able to expand to beyond 3,600 employees without constructing a new campus because of existing structures that formerly housed Sun Microsystems.

The benefits from the agreement would go "beyond dollars and

cents" and is an important step in building a relationship between Facebook and the community, Schapelhouman said.

The fire chief added that working with Facebook to reach this

agreement has been a positive experience.

"Early on we realized there was a common theme between their

commitment to the community service they want to provide and what we do every day," he said.


Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm

> Under the agreement with the fire district, Facebook would
> provide up to $300,000 toward improvements and enhancements
> that would support Facebook and the community.

Given how much money Facebook has, or will have, this $300K is a drop in the bucket for them, and will never be missed. But what's missing from this article, is why they are having to pay the Fire District anything?

Certainly adding several thousand people to the Menlo Park site increases the potential obligation for the District, but with appropriate sprinkler systems, and appropriate water feeds to the campus, and adding state-of-the-art fire detection to the campus, might reduce the likelihood of having any fires at all. Of course, there is always the possibility of acts of vandalism that get out of control, or acts of terrorism--but still, if the FB facilities people were to invest wisely, they could reduce the site's fire potential significantly.

The article suggests that signal controllers would be added that would all fire trucks to force traffic lights to switch so that the trucks could cross intersections more safely. OK, but this is the sort of basic infrastructure that one would have thought that a world-famous and so very well-managed fire district would have already put in place--at least in the high density areas, such as Menlo Park.

And what other "projects" have been negotiated? Are these projects secret?

A little more information about this arrangement would be of value to the community at large, and to other companies thinking about moving in to any of the cities serviced by this Fire District.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of University South
on Apr 25, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Wondering, just to add a thought, the systems you mention - such as sprinklers and fire detection - may be rendered unusable if there is a large disaster (e.g. prolonged power outage, like the EPA aircraft crash) or earthquake. I wouldn't be surprised if the money helped fund a Community Emergency Response team or other disaster related initiatives.

Premeption devices for traffic lights aren't actually very common in all communities. Even in Palo Alto there are only a few traffic lights that will give emergency vehicles right of way.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm

It's not several thousand - it's close to 10 thousand people. Check out The Almanac recent archives for discussions. Peter Carpenter has done a tirelessly good job of outlining the issues facing Menlo Fire.

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