Four Fire Stations to Close in CoCo County - NBC Bay Area

Four Fire Stations to Close in CoCo County



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    The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously  Tuesday evening to approve a plan to shutter four fire stations a month after  voters rejected a parcel tax measure meant to prevent the closures.

    The cost-saving service reduction plan drafted by Contra Costa  County Fire Protection District Chief Daryl Louder comes a month after  Measure Q, a $75 annual parcel tax designed to help close the district's $17  million budget deficit, failed to receive a two-thirds "super majority" vote.
    Stations located at 700 Hawthorne Drive in Walnut Creek, at 6500 Center Ave. in Clayton, at 1240 Shell Ave. in Martinez and at 4007 Los Arabis  Ave. in Lafayette are set to close in January. The Lafayette station has been  temporarily closed since June.

    Those stations were selected for closure based on their location,  call volume and emergency risk factors in the surrounding communities, fire  officials said.

    The closures will leave Walnut Creek with only three stations,  Martinez and Lafayette with just two each, and Clayton without any fire  station.

    "We know that with longer response times, we have increased safety  concerns for the public and increased safety concerns for our firefighters,"  Louder said. "We will continue to monitor the impact, monitor response times  and evaluate the situation."

    Louder said the closures, while a drastic measure, are the only  viable alternative available since the fire district has spent through its  reserves after years of falling property tax revenue and soaring pension and  health care costs.

    The chief explained that the district's personnel have taken pay  cuts and contributed more to their pension and health care costs in recent  years, but have been unable to solve their fiscal dilemma.

    The plan is expected to save the financially embattled district $3  million over the next six months, according to the chief. The district's  current annual budget is over $102 million.