Clayton’s Station 11 will reopen in August, thanks to a $9.5 million federal grant designed to help local fire districts maintain adequate emergency response levels.
Station 11 was one of four stations forced to close in 2013 after a $75 parcel tax failed at the polls and the district had to slash costs.
Of the four closed, Station 11 is the only one to reopen. The Clayton station averages two calls a day with 65 percent of them being for emergency medical services (EMS). Station 11’s location on the far eastern edge of the district makes it difficult to provide fast response and back-up resources.
“Clayton’s an outlier, isolated,” says Supervisor Karen Mitchoff. “Reopening the station is an operational decision, determined solely by the number of calls.”
It costs about $1 million a year to operate a fire station, Mitchoff says. The rest of the grant will be used to add emergency medical squads at Station 6 in downtown Concord and Station 1 in Walnut Creek and to hire and train the 12 vacancies that have been filled by overtime since the shutdowns.
The grant will run for two years, giving the district time to attack the structural budget issues and look at ways to increase revenue.
“We’re looking at providing ambulance services as a revenue generator,” Mitchoff said, “Or, possibly increasing the current $10 EMS parcel tax.”
Wildland fire danger high
Further east, out Marsh Creek and Morgan Territory, Cal Fire is gearing up for a very high risk year, says Battalion Chief Mike Marcucci.
“The recent rains haven’t really helped. It’s just made the grass higher,” he said.
With the drought, the bushes and trees are already dry and underbrush dead, Marcucci said.
With the smoke barely clear from the recent Morgan Fire, Marcucci reminds residents to clear brush and grass to create at least 100 feet of defensible space around their homes. Inspectors will be driving through the area for the next few weeks. Residents can expect a “friendly reminder” if the grass is too high.
For more information on preparing for wildfires and defensible space visit: www.ReadyForWildfire.org