Stephen Ellison

Growing Concern Over Emergency Resources in Booming Menlo Park: Grand Jury Report

With the population, job growth and traffic congestion rapidly rising in San Mateo County, there is growing concern that emergency responders won’t be able to handle the surge in calls.

That’s especially true for places like Menlo Park, home to Facebook headquarters and its 15,000 workers.

A civil grand jury in San Mateo County on Thursday published its concerns in a 96-page report, specifically mentioning Facebook and the company's plan to bring in 20,000 more workers to its Menlo Park campus.

The big question: Will emergency crews be able to get to people if they’re in crisis?

The grand jury report says the Menlo Park Fire Protection District doesn't have a plan to help people in an emergency that would be adequate for the future surge in population.

"Our concern is that those resources will not be there when needed," said Richard Edminster of San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury. "Primarily east of Highway 101 in Menlo Park and to some degree to East Palo Alto as well."

The grand jury is worried that the fire district doesn’t have stations in the right places.

"You need to have fire stations that are located in some proximity to where the demand is going to be," Edminster said.

The traffic congestion is yet another problem. The grand jury wonders what is the fire district’s plan for getting to an emergency when there is bumper-to-bumper traffic.

"Fire and emergency vehicles need to get to the fires, and if the traffic conditions are such that the response times are substandard, that puts property and lives at risk," Edminster said.

The Menlo Park Fire District did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the grand jury report.

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