Blowing up the Fire Department

Casual readers of this blog may want to pay closer attention than usual.

Except this time, it’s the consultants wearing the turnouts.


This coming Tuesday, January 24, the Fullerton City Council will entertain a study session to review the merits of folding the Brea and Fullerton Fire Departments into one. If approved, the Fullerton Fire Department, and it’s 108-year history as we know it, would cease to exist.

Thanks to a 3-2 vote (YES: Fitzgerald, Flory, Chaffee. NO: Whitaker, Sebourn) a new government agency was formed with the City of Brea on October 18, 2016. The North Orange County Cities Joint Powers Authority is its name.

A merged Fullerton and Brea Fire Department would no longer be under the direct control of either the Fullerton or Brea City Councils. Instead, it would be governed by this new JPA — whose board members will be unelected. That is a board which is directly accountable to nobody. Two City Council members from each city, appointed by their respective City Councils, will govern the JPA. That’s not a typo — it really is two members from each city — meaning there is no tiebreaker vote.

The study session follows on the heels of a recent JPA Feasibility Study whereby the case to merge fire departments is rather weak.

We already utilize a shared fire command with the City of Brea. Fullerton’s projected costs under that existing arrangement are shown below, in blue. Fullerton’s projected costs under the JPA are shown in yellow.

The consultant, Citygate Associates LLC, says not to worry about the $300-400K annual cost increases under a JPA as those are within “model variance”.  (Note:  The above figures are in thousands)

Later in the study, however, they lament that neither Fullerton or Brea have a fire headquarters building large enough to house the administrative staff, and recommend one be secured. The costs of doing so are not included in the study. They also recommend hiring more administrative personnel.

Some of the basic assumptions:

  • No fire stations would be closed.
  • No fire positions would be eliminated.
  • Unfunded pension and medical insurance liabilities remain the responsibility of each city.
  • The consultant also concludes that Fullerton Firefighters would be given a raise to match Brea Firefighters:

By far, the worst — and most insulting — element of this study has to do with ambulance services, currently provided to Fullerton by private contractor CARE Ambulance. To offset the increased costs, they are proposing the JPA take over as the ambulance provider, buy a fleet of ambulances, and raise rates charged to people like me and you.

Let that sink in for a moment.  Being transported to the hospital by ambulance is never cause for celebration. Some patients will be dead within hours or days of being transported. Others may be disabled and unable to work for long periods, if ever again.

Come back tomorrow for another post on how the JPA wants to capitalize on your misery.

23 Replies to “Blowing up the Fire Department”

  1. So less accountability, loss of local control, more expensive, new buildings, new board members to lobby.

    Just the kind of thing that phoney conservative lobbyist Fitzgerald would push, with the help of the dearly departed kleptocrat Joe Felz.

    I think I will be against this one.

  2. The result of a Fire Dept JPA is this: The unfunded pension debt and unpaid pension bonds will be retained by the two citys, including the share related to the departing employees. The JPA will form a new defined benefit pension plan with zero debt, leaving $$$$ for raises, featherbedding, perks that would have been spent to reduce the pension debt but for the JPA.

    The great featherbedding gambit in Ca. cities and counties is to require a fire truck and three senior firemen to respond to all 911 calls. That generates incredible over time. Inthe Richmond fire district it had ten firemen generate over $400,000 per year in salary and overtime.

  3. On the bright side, this would pull the fire union lobby out of Fullerton politics. They can just make backroom deals with the unelected JPA board members to keep on ripping off the Fullerton taxpayers. No need to campaign. More money for steak dinners.

    1. Considering that the JPA will be comprised of city council members it’ll likely mean MORE Fire Union funding of council elections. They’ll still need a majority 3-2 on both Fullerton & Brea’s councils to get their preferred cronies voted onto the JPA each term.

        1. That’d be a fun campaign.

          Vote Fitzgerald for Fullerton City Council, she’ll do right by Brea!

          Brea Fire Supports Chaffee. Let’s be honest, he likes our city better anyways.

  4. Remember when the cops went nutsy-cuckoo at the mere suggestion of a bid for services from OCSD? For Flory, Fitzgerald, Chaffee types it was all about local control, and a 100 year-old department yadda yadda bullshit.

    But the (non)fire fighters stand to benefit from this upgrade to Brea pay or this would never have gotten any traction.

    1. Tony’s van dropped off pallets of slates during the election with Travis and Greg’s mugs on them to be littered all over town via the usps and then after the election Tony’s van dropped Travis and Greg off at the council meeting where Greg flushed the whole damn thing down the toilet with the mere utterance of the word No. Remember how Greg ruined Fullerton that night, and destroyed the efforts of the recall? Bruce made sure the council is what it is now because he hasn’t had a real job in a decade since he managed a tiny medical practice off of Beach blvd and that 700 bucks a month means more to him than this city. He plays ball like a pro, Barry did a great job of exposing all that and you ass wipes call him nuts. Bruce can vote no all he wants because he knows it means shit now. He gets to make less than minimum wage but at least he gets to make himself look good and get all kinds of free food.

      1. Wow, somebody is bitter.

        Barry is loud, unbalanced and has a completely distorted view of his own importance and righteousness.

        Nutsy Barry never “exposed” anything somebody else didn’t discover first. That would take intelligence and work.

    2. That’s funny because Fullerton FIREFIGHTERS are against the JPA because of the effect it will have on the services provided to the citizens of Fullerton. There is a big difference between the FIREFIGHTERS that provide actual services to the citizens and the staff that are lobbying for the JPA.

      1. You don’t need to pretend that firefighters aren’t self-interested on this site. We are smarter than that, and not interested in PR speak.

        Tell us the real reason why they don’t support the JPA (if they really don’t.)

      2. Bullshit. There is no effect on services – same facilities, same crews, more supervisors – just higher pay for the FFD members.

        The better question is what’s in it for Brea?

      3. Nonsense, of course. They’ve been trying to sink their teeth into the ambulance business for 30 years. It will be fun to watch what CARE does.

  5. Here is “Citygate”:

    Mostly retired, highly-pensioned government employees. Their “fire” experts are former fire department employees. I wonder where their loyalties lie.Typical. Please get the contract so we can see how much we paid these clowns.

    Damn disgraceful, but what else would you expect from Felz, Flory and Fitzgerald.

  6. My friend AJ and I were out filming the mayhem downtown a couple of months ago, and when we came upon a young lady completely passed out, her bocy, half on the sidewalk, half in the gutter. There was a crowd standing in line for Back Alley and adjacent bars near by, but no one knew who she was. After some attempts to wake her I flagged down a motorcycle cop , who then called for paramedics. Within 15 minutes or so we had a firetruck, a ambulance, 2 cops on motorcycles and two patrol cars with a total of more than a dozen employees of either fire or police standing around as this young lady was transported to St. Jude’s. I asked why they needed a firetruck on scene. It seemed excessive, or why more than one cop needed to be on the scene as it was about midnight and lots of other shit was going on downtown. i was told that some services EMTs are not trained for, that fire is trained for, so the firetruck needs to go out on all calls. WTF? Well, why not have the super trained firemen show up in a vehicle smaller than a mega firetruck I asked. Don’t worry about it I was told by the head fire woman. Can someone explain to me why the only transportation a fire person can take to the scene of a NON FIRE is a giant firetruck? This seems like clear government waste, obnoxious waste, we all know it happens, not just in Fullerton but in most if not all cities, but it’s never even a point of debate. Where are all the prop 13 dudes on this one? is it that our city officials don’t want to fuck with their union.

    1. Bax, you are not alone in thinking that showing up in a “mega firetruck” with so many, a dozen police and fire, is government waste as there are many others that also believe in this. But you are wrong that it is waste and is actually needed and very important. Here’s why:
      Someone called 911 dispatched and reported that a woman was down and unresponsive and that is what was relayed to fire and police. Police is there for the safety of the firefighters and the patient (the woman). To make sure that fire can get to her without interference from the crowd and that if there is any suspicious activity they can look into it further.
      As for fire, most department’s respond with 3 or 4 personnel on the fire truck with 2 EMT’s ont he ambulance. The dispatch coming in as person unresponsive could very well be a drunk person, but could also be someone who just had a heart attack or a stroke, either of which are life or death. If it was the latter of options, it will take 2 people to do CPR compressions and administer oxygen through a Bag Valve Mask. One of the paramedics will be making a call to the base hospital with what conditions they have and letting them know to expect a serious patient. There will be a paramedic that will have to start an IV to administer the proper medications as well as extra hands to move the patient because every second that CPR stops the chance of survival goes down.

      I’m sure if that passed out woman was a family member of yours you would want everyone that to give her the best chances of survival instead of showing up short staffed and have to wait another 5-10 minutes for enough people to give effective care.

      Lastly they respond in the big fire truck because if they leave it back at the station and a fire starts, they have to go back to the station to pick it up to then respond to the fire. Unless what you want to is to have a big fire truck and then also have small medical vehicles, but have enough staff for both which increases equipment/vehicle/staffing costs, but hey you wouldn’t obnoxious waste would ya??

      1. So the real question is why we call them ‘fire fighters” any more. They hardly ever deal with fires. And that almost never involves a “fight.” More like a bunch of guys spraying water on a fire until there’s nothing left but wet ashes.

        1. What’s in a name, quite the observation. Fighting fire is a narrow slice of what they do now a days. Most of it is respond to emergency medical calls, traffic accidents, natural disasters, traffic accidents, hazardous material spills, and just about any time someone calls 911 with a problem they are there to help solve it. But when it comes to fighting fires it’s more about making sure everyone is out of the building on fire, trying to minimize property loss to building, and contain it from spreading to nearby houses or business’s. All of which is done in a combination from the outside, inside the burning building or on the roof of a building with fire underneath. Thanks for your curiosity in “what’s in a name”.

    1. The firefighter, who was hired in February 2008, has been placed on paid leave while Fullerton city officials investigate, said Gretchen Beatty, director of human resources in Fullerton.

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