A Union City fire station closed down for good Wednesday morning, a move made by the city and strongly criticized by public safety advocates.
Fire Station 30, operated by the Alameda County Fire Department, closed at 8 a.m. Wednesday after city leaders in October decided the station was underused based on a study conducted last summer analyzing the cost-effectiveness of all four of the city's fire stations.
The independent study showed Station 30 was handling on average 1.7 calls a day at a cost of $3.2 million a year, the city said.
"We are indebted to the firefighters for keeping our residents safe during medical and fire emergencies; however, the City Council’s job is to be responsible fiscal agents of city resources," Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci said in a statement. "We have been examining all city services in the last year to understand where we can be more efficient. Changes are being made citywide, not just with the Fire Department.
"The reality is that Fire Station 30 was underutilized at a high cost to residents," the mayor added. "We are confident that we made a decision that was in the community’s best interest."
In 2016, Union City voters approved Measure QQ, a parcel tax that resulted with the city promising to keep all fire stations open. Now, some of those citizens who held up their end of the bargain are angered the City Council did not.
Advocates with Keep Union City Safe have been highly critical of the closure since the October decision, saying it will increase emergency response times throughout the city, putting public safety at risk. The group has circulated a petition on its website and is urging residents to demand the City Council keep the station open.
The firefighters union also has been critical of the closure, agreeing that response times would be dangerously impacted.
"There are two fire companies west side, we are losing one," said Sean Burrows of the Alameda County firefighters union. "When the other company goes on a call, we’ll have to wait for crew from central; we’re talking 6, 8, 15 (minutes) to get to this neighborhood."
The city said personnel and equipment from Fire Station 30, which housed nine firefighters, will be transferred to other Fire Department locations within Alameda County.
The budget-cutting effort also includes cutting hours at the library and other community, youth and senior centers, the city said.