A new report shows response times for East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District are now over eight minutes, which is nearly a minute more than they were last year.
Fire Chief Hugh Henderson said the lag in response times is a direct result of reducing three engines from five and closing two stations.
"With less resources you are getting increased response times," Henderson said.
The chief said his district voters 249 square miles with more than 110,000 people.
"And we are doing that with three engine companies on duty," Henderson said. "We have nine firefighters on duty handling those calls."
Brentwood-resident Bob Clarke has already seen the need for more firefighters firsthand. He said it took so long for firefighters to respond to his neighbor's burning home, he watched it go up in flames.
"Me and my neighbor were standing out there for about 10 minutes and then they showed up. By that time it was a bonfire," Clarke said.
Henderson said a tough combination of a growing population and budget cuts are to blame for the increase in response times. He fears with the warm weather it is only going to get worse.
"As it gets warm now and starts drying out, we are going to have a pretty challenging vegetation season," Henderson said.
The fire chief said the increase in response times also come after voters shot down a measure that would have raised more than $4 million over the next five years.