HESPERIA • The Hesperia city council will discuss a proposed budgetary cut that would eliminate nine full-time San Bernardino County firefighters and five sheriff’s deputies’ positions Tuesday night before they vote on June 21. As part of the city’s 2011-12 budget, officials have proposed eliminating nine firefighter-paramedics and five vacant deputy positions. The 14 first-responder positions make up the bulk of the 20 city staff jobs the city is looking to do away with as part of the next fiscal year. Victorville is proposing to lay off 10 full-time employees but no cuts to deputies or fire personnel. Apple Valley hasn’t proposed any layoffs for this year. There are currently 45 full-time firefighter positions assigned to Hesperia which includes captains, engineers and firefighter-paramedics, fire officials stated. According to authorities, the proposed cuts to personnel will take staffing from the current three-man crews to two-man crews at certain stations. The cuts will be discussed city’s budget workshop starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Hesperia City Hall located at 9700 Seventh Avenue.
Story: VV Daily Press
APPLE VALLEY • With persistent concerns over fire safety in town, Councilman Rick Roelle has questioned the status of a station that now often appears shuttered, asking for details on whether response times have slowed. A letter included in the agenda for Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting states fire station 336, on Yucca Loma Road near Apple Valley Road, isn’t closed. Instead, Chief Art Bishop with the Apple Valley Fire Protection District said it’s now staffed with 20 paid-call firefighters. A fire engine, water tender and other equipment are also still housed at the station. “As far as response times are concerned,” the letter from Bishop states, “the Fire District maintains, and remains committed to, the sub six-minute response, 90 percent of the time, within the Town of Apple Valley.” A report from AVFPD provided by Bishop shows response times dropped between 2008 and 2009, from an average in the high- and medium-density areas of 6 minutes flat two years ago to 5 minutes, 53 seconds in 2009.
Story by: Victorville Daily Press
APPLE VALLEY • The Apple Valley Fire Protection District is looking at ways to close a $1 million budget deficit, with retirement incentives, employee furloughs and more on the table. Officials are hoping these moves will trim enough from the budget to avoid laying off any of the district’s approximately 80 employees, though that possibility was mentioned during a special meeting of the district’s board of directors Tuesday afternoon. Chief Doug Qualls said the AVFPD is working with a 15 percent deficit of its $7.6 million budget, and they anticipate another cut next year. Qualls cited declining property values as the main reason for the shortfall, with less revenue coming to the district as the value of homes — and therefore the amount of property taxes homeowners pay — has plummeted over the last two years or so. According to AVFPD employees, they were informed about the approximate $1 million deficit in a memo from Qualls early last month.
Story by: Victorville Daily Press
APPLE VALLEY • With the Apple Valley Fire Protection District looking to cut costs, one politically sensitive option being floated is the possibility of contracting with San Bernardino County for fire service, as every other Victor Valley city now does. Apple Valley Councilman Rick Roelle, then sitting as mayor, spearheaded a push to look at turning the local fire department over to County Fire last April. Roelle cited concern with the district’s finances and how it might affect its ability to provide service to residents. That suggestion drew sharp criticism from many residents, who insisted that the quality of service would drop without having a local fire department, and the idea died last June. According to County Fire figures, it takes roughly $1.3 million to $1.6 million a year to run a fully staffed fire station. The numbers from AVFPD were not immediately available. “The guys are going to do the best with what they got,” said Jake Salgado, president of the Apple Valley Professional Firefighters Association. “The fire district will deliver outstanding quality service regardless of how big or small the budget. We are being fiscally responsible to the community.”
Story by: Victorville Daily Press
A Norco firefighters labor group is defending its right to campaign in local elections amid concerns that its members, who mostly live outside of the city, unfairly influence campaigns.The issue of unions investing significant money and time in local elections is not new to California cities, some of which have tried to limit their involvement, according to the citizens group California Common Cause. In defense of the practice, union organizers and some local candidates argue that lobbying groups have a constitutional right to support candidates making decisions that directly affect their professions.At a recent Norco City Council meeting, Richard Hallam, chair of the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission, told the council he was concerned that the Norco Firefighters Association wields too strong of an influence in city elections and poses a conflict of interest partly because most of its members do not live in the city.”They have so much money to give to candidates and they put up big signs saying Norco Firefighters Association endorses such and such candidates,” said Hallam, mentioning this year is another election year. “It’s an unfair advantage for the people they endorse… Why don’t they let the citizens of Norco elect who they want to elect?” Continue reading
The Los Angeles firefighters’ union renewed its campaign Thursday against the rotating brownouts at city fire stations, delivering hundreds of postcards demanding the restoration of full service. “This is not the time to be cutting fire service,” said Pat McOsker, head of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, during a rally at City Hall. “September and October is the brushfire season in Los Angeles. We just came off the Station Fire, which was the 10th worst in California history, and we didn’t even have any winds.” Continue reading
Fire exploded last week across Southern California, from the apple orchards of Oak Glen to the enclaves of Tujunga. As fire does, it ravaged acreage — more than 154,000 acres in Los Angeles County alone by early Saturday — and lives. Two firefighters died. Others were injured. Dozens of residents found their homes turned to ash. And if autumn’s history is any guide, last week was a siren warning of things to come.The least of the lessons to be gained from this fire may have been the political ones. But they were there, nonetheless. Among them is the fact that, even as they and their fellow government workers take it on the chin via cutbacks, firefighters are still among the most venerated among us, by the citizenry itself and by politicians who crave their embrace. Continue reading
Alameda firefighters have issued a 19-page rebuttal to an 81-page report about the Alameda Fire Department that the city received in May. The city commissioned the International City/County Manage-ment Association to operationally assess both the police and fire departments. In their rebuttal, the firefighters have focused on statements that the firefighters call “at least, misleading, and, at most, blatantly incorrect.” “Each has the potential to do irreparable harm to the Alameda Fire Department and must be addressed,” the rebuttal says.The firefighters have divided their 25 responses into seven categories. These include the executive summary; administration and finance; emergency medical services; fire prevention, public education and employee education; staffing and buildings and an outcome-focused department. Continue reading
HAVERHILL, Mass. — Private investigators are used to conducting video surveillance on city workers only after the employee has been warned and given a chance to fix the problem on his or her own, Mayor James Fiorentini has said. But the four firefighters facing suspensions for allegedly violating the city’s sick leave rules were never counseled prior to being followed and videotaped by private investigators in December, firefighters union President Paul Weinburgh said. The firefighters have complained they have been denied their “due process rights.” Continue reading