Fullerton about to lose a Fire Engine

The City is in the process of approving a new labor contract with the Fullerton Firefighter’s Association.  Buried deep in the agreement on page 52 is this nugget — the City will be going from six (6) engines to five (5) engines.  We’ve had six fire engines in Fullerton for many, many years.

At no time has the City come forward with any candor to admit to this change, except when I brought it up during the previous City Council meeting.  Even then, none of our council members seem to care very much.

This change may well result in every property owner in the City paying higher property (fire) insurance rates. One of the factors that insurance companies use to determine rates is the Insurance Services Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification (PPC) score calculated for every fire district around the country.

The ISO score takes into consideration many factors, including the strength of the fire department and the City’s water supply.   More specifically, the fire department score includes calculations for the number of engine and truck companies, their locations around the City, and the number of firefighters on duty.  The fire union agreement, set for final approval on Tuesday, reduces the level of staffing by 1 position per rotating shift, which will further reduce our score.

Fullerton scored 76.71 points out of a possible 100 the last time ISO evaluated the City of Fullerton in 2012.  This equates to an ISO PPC “class” of 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being best).

You can read the full report here.  As much as the City wants to rubber stamp the agreement and forget all about it, this is very much a matter of public policy that warrants further discussion.  We will likely pay more for homeowner’s insurance due to the City having one less fire engine in service.

Do we, as a City, want to:

  • Pay more in homeowner’s insurance premiums in return for less fire department staffing and resources?
  • Pay more in taxes to maintain the current level of fire department staffing, and, hopefully, preserve lower insurance premiums?
  • Pay the same amount in taxes, for the same, or even improved levels of fire department staffing, by forcing the firefighters to contribute more toward their pensions?

This is a choice that needs to be made now before going any further.  I suggest attending Tuesday’s meeting prepared to speak, and/or send your thoughts to council@cityoffullerton.com.

58 Replies to “Fullerton about to lose a Fire Engine”

    1. Walt,
      Per the Fire Chief, one possibility is moving the City’s only Truck (Truck 1) currently housed at Station 1, to Station 3 on Acacia Ave and eliminating Engine 3 based there.

      1. Or you just get rid of a fire station maybe?

        Fire Station 5 (APN 337-121-02 | P-L |1.42 acre) is in the list of properties for sale on the Closed Session Agenda.

        1. Fire Station 5 has been the subject of relocation for years. Ketchum University (So Cal College of Optometry) wants the land. The plan was to relocate the fire station to the dirt lot parcel directly west of there. Of course, Fullerton can’t afford that either.

      2. As it turns out the Engine at the Rosecrans station was shut down and the ladder truck is there now. Truck 6

        The savings to the city is probably in the $800K a year ballpark.

        Man-for-man Fire Depts. are more costly that PD’s

    2. *Ever heard of Mutual Aid Packs between Fire Departments? Guess Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, La Habra or maybe Whittier can jump in if necessary?

      1. It’s kind of crummy to expect Brea, Anaheim, and the County ladder truck in Placentia to cover most of the city since Fullerton about a mile away from the L.A. County Line.

  1. So… with more high-density-high-rise future ghettos, and a growing population, we need FEWER fire trucks?
    Makes sense now – make Fullerton one large high density high rise building and we can eliminate ALL fire trucks!
    Can’t wait for the police department to figure this out…

  2. Let’s face it. California has been sunk by public employee unions headed by the Hero unions. They brag about their courage and their service (But how maybe we critics should wonder what would happen if the Heroes decided not to show up when we actually need them (almost never, of course). Then you start reading these one-sided contracts approved by political goon the unions elect whose main goal is to protect pay, benefits and overtime rip-offs and you realize the fundamental greed of the unions. “Service” means self-service and cramming as much on to your plate as you can from the public buffet line.

  3. The proposed change from 6 engines (3 of which are paramedic engines – meaning that they have two firefighter-paramedics on board so that they can provide advanced life support treatment, and 3 of which are paramedic assessment engines with only a single firefighter-paramedic on board) will reduce the total number of firefighters per shift by one. We would go from 25 firefighters per shift to 24 firefighters per shift exclusive of command staff (those above the rank of captain).

    The fire service has changed greatly in the last 30+ years. The number of calls for medical emergencies now accounts for about 80% of responses from full-service departments, while non-medical calls (fires, etc.) has dropped considerably. Currently, whenever one of our three-person engines is first in on a medical emergency call a second engine has to be dispatched if advanced life support is needed. This results in two engines being unavailable while the medical emergency is being handled.

    Under the five paramedic engine, one truck plan, most medical calls will be handled by a single engine leaving the same amount of coverage we have now a good part of the time.

    Moving the truck company to Station 3 might make some sense. The current front-line truck has some pumping capacity so it could handle small fires until the remaining first alarm response arrives. The reserve truck does not have any pumping capacity so that is a bit of a problem. The solution to that would be to make sure that the next ladder truck purchased is a quint that has the same pumping capacity as a regular engine.

    Overall the switch to five paramedic engines and one truck should save lives because of the better paramedic coverage for the city. I suspect that the change will not cause enough of a difference to move us from ISO 3 to ISO 4 status.

    With regard to Curlee’s gratuitous comments about pension contributions, let me just say that my first real job in life was as a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service on the Angeles National Forest where I earned some money to help out with college expenses. The one think that I learned from that experience is that firefighters earn every penny they receive in salary and benefits. They work under the most adverse of conditions, and deal with more tragedy in a week than most of us see in a lifetime. Many of them die early from cancer and heart disease.

    While I would prefer that we had an ISO class 1 fire department like Anaheim does and would gladly pay the extra taxes needed for that, I think that the plan being proposed is the best that we can do given the circumstances.

      1. The circumstances I was referring to are the shortfall in the city’s budget, and the current structure of the FD.

        1. And who caused that shortfall? That’s right! The phony firefighters you idolize. How about those greedy bastards give back some of what they have been stealing for all these years?

          1. Wow, you sir have no idea what you are saying. It’s unfortunate that you seem to think that these men and women who see more tragedy then you could even imagine are phony heroes. They don’t do the job to be a hero. They do their job because they have trained and studied to do the job.

      1. “Many of them die early from cancer and heart disease.”

        Yeah, that’s the union PR bullshit line. A complete fabrication, of course. Cops spew out the same malarky. The escalation of pay and benefits for these grabbers has skyrocketed even as their jobs have become safer and safer.

        1. And many cancers, heart disease and lung disease are deemed “work-related” – thanks to their lobbyists

      2. I’m not too sure about that graphic, Johnny. Cops are way too high. It’s much more dangerous on a construction site than in a squad car cruising around looking for someone to beat up and throw in jail.

        Firefighter is about right – just above a cashier. Unless of course that cashier happens to work in a convenience store, a much more dangerous occupation than washing a fire engine every few days.

        1. Maybe they should get their ass off the couch and eat less pork rinds.

          Or maybe they should smoke less.

          Shit, maybe they should simply HIRE MORE WOMEN, because an uptick in cancer and heart disease couldn’t simply be related to having more males– males who have a statically significant increased risk of heart disease and cancer– in the general working population for this employment class?

          Come on, Mark. Don’t be such a Homer.

        2. From the webmd website: “Firefighters, however, don’t have a higher rate of heart deaths than do people in other jobs.”

          You, sir, are a partisan hack, as a quick look at your facebook page reveals. It’s actually sad that you drape/wrap your opinions in your doctoral degree.

    1. There’s nothing preventing the City of Fullerton from going to paramedic engines with a crew of three that includes two paramedics. Brea did just this. A crew of four is not necessary for a standard ALS medical call. Yes, the reduced staffing in this instance would lower the ISO score, but it would also save the City millions of dollars annually.

      On the topic of pensions, I don’t think Dr. Shapiro has any concept of what we’re currently paying to CalPERS for police and fire positions.

      1. Typical daily staffing for Brea is 13 firefighters on three engines and one truck company. Brea has a population of about 39,300. Fullerton’s typical daily staffing is 25 on six engines and one truck company. Fullerton has population of about 135,200. Fullerton’s current staffing ratio is 18.5 firefighters per 100,000. Brea’s current staffing ratio is 33.1 firefighters per 100,000. Fullerton’s fire department clearly is a much more efficient operation than Brea’s. It is also considerably leaner and more efficient than most cities its size.

        For example, the City of Orange has a population that is almost the same as that of Fullerton 136,400. Their department operates 7 3-person engines, 1 4-person quint, 1 4 person truck, and 4 2-person rescue ambulances for a daily staffing of 37, for a staffing ratio of 27.1 per 100,000 (46% higher than Fullerton’s staffing ratio).

        1. Comparing the Fullerton, Brea, and Orange Fire Departments on the basis of population is a very poor method of analysis. Brea and Orange have significantly higher exposure to wildfires. Brea Fire Station 4 is way out there on SR-142 to protect Carbon Canyon and the village of Olinda, Fullerton doesn’t have anything comparable to that.

          Nevertheless, if you still wanted to compare Fullerton and Orange on the basis of population, Orange is still 10% larger by square miles.

          Additionally, Orange’s general fund revenue is $108 million compared to Fullerton’s $91 million, and, as everyone knows, Fullerton is broke.

            1. It’s pretty easy. This particular PhD relies way too much on emotional arguments like “Remember 9/11!”

        2. Doc, your all wrong on the Brea -Fullerton efficiency comparison.

          Brea has a larger component of industry/commercial/retail in the city that also requires protection, along with a desire to protect the Olinda Village outpost where there is a brand new station even though the population is close to 2,000.

          So I would refrain from looking at per-capita, because two cities are not alike. Fullerton is much more residential, than Brea is, as well as the wildland issue Brea has to staff for.

    2. Thank you Dr. Shapiro for you well written comment. I’m looking forward to more comments here from you.

    3. “With regard to Curlee’s gratuitous comments about pension contributions, let me just say that my first real job in life was as a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service on the Angeles National Forest where I earned some money to help out with college expenses. The one think that I learned from that experience is that firefighters earn every penny they receive in salary and benefits.”

      And that Dear Sir, is classic bullshit. If you really were a Forest Service firefighter, you would know the difference between real courage accompanied by fair pay, and the lavish benefits we dole out to municipal “fire fighters” who spend almost all their time sitting on their backsides.

      1. Well you are the liar Mr. Sipowiz. The majority of my time spent as a firefighter (Tanker 2-4 at the Big Dalton Canyon Station – in those days USFS engines were called “tankers”) definitely was not spent on my backside. We worked a full day every day, and today’s professional municipal firefighters do the same. There is a lot more to firefighting than sitting around. They earn every penny they make and then some. Next time you are in urgent need of advanced life support try calling your local politician.

        1. Do you have a fucking reading comprehension problem? I compared favorably the job of a Forest Service firefighter with the “work” of a municipal “firefighter” who rarely does much of anything.

          Paramedic services can be provided by the private sector at a fraction of the cost charged by your Heroes.

          P.S. Where did you get your PhD? Walmart?

          1. I received my A.B. with honors in physics from the University of California, Berkeley and my M.S. and Ph.D degrees in physics from the University of Pennsylvania.

            As far as municipal firefighters rarely doing much of anything, please tell that to the survivors of the 343 FDNY firefighters who died on 9/11 along with dozens more who have died from illnesses related to their recovery work at the twin towers site, or perhaps to the survivors of the approximately 100 firefighters who die each year in the line of duty.

            1. There it is, folks. 911.

              Have your wives drop their panties, because they’re heroes and deserve.

              Go back to the retirement home, you old coot.

              1. What kind of insecure blowhard uses an academic degree on a blog? You do seem like old Doc HeeHaw. Call me Colonel!

    4. “The fire service has changed greatly in the last 30+ years. ”

      “The one think that I learned from that experience is that firefighters earn every penny they receive in salary and benefits.”

      Have your foot tell your mouth hello.

  4. If driving in the carpool lane isn’t a moving violation why should talking on your cell phone be counted as a moving violation? If Josh Newman gets his way talking on your cell phone will count as a point against your driving record in Californiaeven if you are driving in another state.Although many are not fans of cellphone drivers, the bill Josh Newman proposes clearly steps over the boundaries of state control and manipulation.

    1. Ah! The final tactic: you are jealous.

      I know, on that knows virtually nothing! Let’s all become public employees! That’ll show ’em. We can all work for the government.

      1. Who wouldn’t be jealous? These slugs are incompetent – what work they do is fucked up. They spend half their time trying to fix the fuck-ups they created with the other half – when they even bother to worry about it. There is no accountability and the middle aged ones still get to retire at 55 (or 50 for the Heroes) with massive pensions while the rest of us get to work until we’re almost 70 to pay for these turds’ retirement. Hell yes I’m jealous. Angry, too.

        Just look at the mess these experts and “professionals” have made of Fullerton: embarrassing public works disasters, roads like a Third World country. out of control cops assaulting and even murdering people – and guess what? Those fine killer public employees get their jobs back!

        Yes, I want to be a public employee. I’m jealous.

  5. I see Bigmouth Barry has swiped a comment from this blog without attribution to where it came from. Typical Bigmouth – steal stuff from other people and claim it as your own. And thast makes Bigmouth Barry a chickenshitm thief.

    1. No, he’s too honorable for that

      Barry Levinson would never take credit for someone else’s good work.

      1. Little Joe Embryo claims commenters aren’t blocked on his wacko site. That’s just an outright lie because I am. But what do expect from truthtellers like Nutsy Embryo and Bigmouth Barry, hiding their defamations behind their keyboards?? When the wackadoodle, self-important bombast is removed there ain’t nothing left.

  6. can someone tell me why a firetruck is sent to the scene when a call is made about a broken wrist? I once flagged down a cop because I found a young woman passed out at the 100 block of Wiltshire half in the sidewalk, half in the street, and I could not revive her. She was pass out from too much downtown booze. A fire tuck showed up, an ambulance showed up, 7 firefighters and about a dozen cops stood around at 2am on a Friday night to see this woman off to the hospital. I did not report a fucking fire, I reported a drunk unconscious person. WTF? Why did we need a full firetruck there> One cop, two paramedics and it would have all been sorted. It’s just fucking stupid and it’s never addressed why firetrucks go out on calls that have nothing today with putting out fires.

    1. On why so much emergency gear goes out for the least emergency.
      Just ask them some time. I did.
      The answer is interesting.
      It exercises their training. It gets them out of the station. The key thing to remember is that wherever they are, they are just as close to the next emergency as they were in the station. Even before the days of GPS, their handler knew Exactly where every piece of equipment was at all times.

      1. Yes, that’s why the whole crew goes shopping for the firehouse chili fixins.

        Or the Heroes could do their grocery shopping on their own time.

  7. Failing infrastructure and yet fire is making bank responding to cats in trees with a fire engine. Nice…

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