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Fremont definitely keeping its fire department

By Matt Artz
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 at 11:26 am in Uncategorized.

City Manager Fred Diaz was asked yesterday if Fremont might consider following Newark and Union City’s lead in scrapping it’s fire department and contracting out fire services from Alameda County.

Diaz answered with an emphatic “No.” He said he’s seen situations in which counties offer cities favorable contracts for fire services, but then jack up the prices in future years so that cities end up with the same costs but without local control of the department.

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  • VOR

    The reason FFD wouldn’t consider this is because of their union. They’ve got it sweet. No way would they give that up. It has nothing to do with prices being jacked up in the future. They have been approached several times in the past and have squelched it each and every time.

  • bbox231

    Two thoughts -

    Sorry to hear Fred has such little faith in our ability to negotiate – and lock in – favorable terms – good thing we’re not negotiating something big like a stadium deal or something !

    And I guess we’re gonna get busy cancelling all of those other 3rd party outsourced service contracts and agreements – - cuz, we’ll get jacked on the contracts sometime in the future – - – right ???

    Tell you what – - ask the question again – maybe with a little thought Fred will come up with a plausible rationalization for his preference.

  • Matt Artz

    Bbox and VOR, Remember that in Union City, the city brass recommended against giving up the fire department and contracting with Alameda County Fire, but the fire union was for it. And the 3-2 vote in favor of contracting with the county was likely tinged with politics. Two of the yes votes were Mayor Mark Green and Councilmember Richard Valle. Green is running for county supervisor and Richard Valle has traditionally supported the interests of public employee unions.

    With respect to Union City, the county offered firefighters better employee retirement benefits, more vacation and a more favorable format for calculating overtime. I don’t know if that’s the same for Fremont — I’ll try to find out when I have time — but it’s definitely not so cut and dry that going with the county saves money.

  • Mike

    Fred Diaz has not been known for his forecasting (see A’s, NUMMI, etc…) so I wouldnt put all my eggs in his basket… That being said, Fremont is served very well by the Fremont Fire Department. They are a group of very professional, well trained firefighters who have a tremendous amount of pride in what they do. Fremont is currently leaving a fire station empty every day. If it wasnt truly needed, then why bulid it? Fremont should be staffing ALL of their fire stations, as they were strategically placed in the locations to meet response times. As a homeowner in the City of Fremont who pays taxes, I would like to see coverage of vital city services in all parts of the City. If it takes merging with a larger fire department to do it then so be it. Fremont should investigate what the costs would be and then make the best business decision for the community instead of a blanket assumption.

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/ Marty

    And of course in a merger, redundancy would not be eliminated.

  • Fremont Lifer

    As of May 1, the Newark Fire Department consolidated with and became part of Alameda County Fire. It is my understanding that substantial cost savings were realized through the elimination of several management-level positions that existed at Newark Fire – a Department only needs one Chief, for instance.

    I should point out that “scrapping” the fire department may not be an accurate characterization of what happens in a consolidation. In Newark, all of the fire stations remain open, staffed by the same firefighters who were there before the consolidation. The changes are primarily at the management level, not at the service level.

    It is correct that the City of Fremont has been approached by several jurisdictions about consolidation of our fire services. They appear to be dead set against it, regardless of the findings of the consultants who churn out reports on the pro’s and con’s involved. Is Mr. Diaz unaware of any jurisdictions where consolidations have proven to be a net gain for the city? Perhaps he should spend more time talking to Newark City Manager John Becker.

  • bbox231

    Matt Artz –

    *You* make an interesting point of consideration and perhaps had Diaz said “It’ll cost us more than operating our own F.D. – .” his response might have been open and shut . . . . but he didn’t say that – HE SAID that while we might negotiate a favorable deal now, we’d likely get hammered later on in the agreement.

    There’s nothing anywhere in anything I’ve read that says we’d be better off one way or the other – - – but Fred’s rationalization seemed to me to be very flimsy for reasons stated in post #2 above.

    I’m sure he appreciates you defending his position though !

  • http://www.mcdonald2010.com Kathy

    Hi Matt,

    I think you are bringing some interesting news to light. It seems that there is a great reluctance to consolidate expenses and learn from other cities. I have a position paper I wrote a few months back about this specific point. I believe we can learn a lot from the City of Irvine, CA. Their stats are in the paper.

    http://www.mcdonald2010.com/my-position-papers/my-position-paper-on-public-safety/

    Kathy