East Bay News

Contra Costa County closes 3 fire stations

Sunday, July 01, 2012

In the midst of a tough wildfire season Contra Costa County closed three fire stations on Sunday. The stations in Knightsen, Brentwood and Bethel Island shut their doors and a number of firefighters lost their jobs. Their survival all hinged on a parcel tax that failed in June.

The Brentwood fire station has been around for more than 80 years and now it is padlocked shut. It is one of three stations forced to close because of the district's budget.

Voters shot down the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District's parcel tax plan so the department had to cut $3 million from its budget and it is hitting their fire protection services hard, forcing them to close three stations and lay off 15 firefighters.

The cuts are very deep; the number of fire stations has gone from six to three and the number of fire fighter personnel has gone from 48 to 27. So, the obvious question many are asking is, "What does this mean in the event of an emergency call to 911?"

"Our response times in the outer edges are going to increase probably close to double. We're looking at 13, 14 minute response times to the farthest ends of the district now," said East Contra Costa Fire Chief Hugh Henderson.

The department is working with a skeleton crew. There are now nine firefighters on duty per shift to cover 250 square miles.

Voters pushed back when East Contra Costa asked them to pay $197 a year in a parcel tax to cover the cash shortfall.

Henderson says with the Fourth Of July holiday approaching, he wants folks to remember that fireworks of any kind are illegal in the county and if you see a fire, to call 911 immediately.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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contra costa county, budget cuts, east bay news
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