We are all very frustrated at the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District’s closure of our 24/7 fire station by staffing it only Monday through Saturday, 2 p.m.-8 p.m.
To figure out where we go from here, the fire district will host an informational meeting on Jan. 23. To make sure all residents have a chance to view the meeting, your city is paying to videotape it for rebroadcast 24 times over the next six weeks on CCTV, Comcast Channel 26.
It will be aired 8 p.m. Mondays, 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays, noon Fridays at 4 p.m. Sundays. I hope the fire district will present some answers to the troubling safety and financial concerns we have all been raising.
City staff has been diligently assembling the information from the county and fire district, other cities with station closures and other resources to help us determine whether there are cost-effective means to reopen the station through other alternatives –whatever those might turn out to be.
The City Council formed an ad-hoc committee on fire and first-responder emergency medical services. We will be conducting community and information-gathering meetings and residents are welcome to attend. Please come and lend your constructive ideas and energy to help resolve the public safety issues raised by the fire district’s action. Our committee’s first meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, in Hoyer Hall at the Clayton Library.
Ultimately, it lands squarely on the shoulders of the county fire district to use the property taxes it collects as a special district to provide services to our community. We should not jump too quickly to absolve them of that responsibility.
The one thing we cannot support is putting the city of Clayton and its residents in a position that will incur long-term taxpayer expense without an ongoing, dedicated and protected source of revenue to pay for such services. The unknowns down that road are huge and it must be travelled cautiously. We don’t know yet what level of funds will be required to provide replacement fire and first-responder emergency medical services.
I expect that there will be much more momentum countywide on this issue in the near future. The fire district stated it will need to close two more stations elsewhere in the district by July 2013, stretching resources even further. That action will result in a cumulative 21 percent district-wide reduction in resources.
Those who perceive they are untouched by this round will likely join the chorus at that point and we will have allies in our quest for accountability and restoration of services.
As always, you can contact me by email at Julie_Pierce@comcast.net. Let me know what you think.