The Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District has a balanced budget without an increased assessment this year and the contract with the Oakdale Fire Protection District and Oakdale City has begun, according to Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District Board of Directors member Michelle Guzman at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 23.
“That (contract with Oakdale) is saving our district about $250,000 additional dollars than what we were already seeing with the contract for management services so with that savings we have also increased services to our area by putting a third firefighter at one of the stations that had previously only had two firefighters,” stated Guzman. “So we are really proud to be increasing those services.”
Guzman also added that there have been regular meetings with the finance committee to review policies and bring them up to date since some of the policies date back to 1997 and 1999.
They will also be evaluating the professional services offered in the district.
Mayor Richard O’Brien asked a question about having three firefighters on an engine and what percentage of EMT calls versus structural fire calls there are.
Fire Chief Randall Bradley answered the questions stating that about 70 percent of the calls are Emergency Medical Service calls, explaining that they still need to be prepared for structure fire calls. The chief gave an example of the fire station staffing of three person companies with the recent structure fire on Atchison Street in downtown Riverbank.
“That shows as far as our staffing levels go that three person engine companies are pretty important,” said Bradley. “I think the two in, two out rule that you referred to as far as the number of people that need to be on the scene to make an interior fire attack, that is true but with a three person company we use our battalion chief that gets there quickly and that settles our two in, two out rule.
“So we can still make an interior fire attack two people in and two people out with a three person company.”
Additionally, Bradley explained that to be really functional on the fire ground they need to be able to assemble 16 people on the fire scene in eight minutes and currently the fire stations are way too spread out to accomplish this with two person companies.
The staffing also comes in to play sometimes with the EMS calls, the chief noted.
Fire stations have a new way of administering CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) where they do rapid chest compressions, issue medication, and they stay on the scene with the patient.
“Now when we do CPR a lot of times we will even request not only the two people on the ambulance and the three people on the fire engine but even a second company to come in because of the time and energy it takes to resuscitates somebody that is in cardiac arrest,” stated Bradley. “So you know a lot of our communities have four person companies, I think the suburban nature of our community, a three person company is adequate for what we do and how we do it.
“Coming from a fire chief’s perspective I think that in a suburban fire model that three works extremely well.”
Mayor O’Brien also asked the fire chief if he was happy with the Oakdale contract.
“So far it (has gone) extremely well,” said Bradley. “We haven’t had any major hiccups at all.”
Bradley explained that the five station fire department was inefficient with all the expenses of all the fire battalions and fire chiefs, however the current increased eight fire stations will now be sharing the overhead costs.
“Everything that we did in putting this contract together was to insure that Oakdale had to pay their own way for fire protection and so we are keeping a close eye on that,” expressed Bradley. “We protect the funds that are coming from our taxpayers so that is extremely important to us.”
There are plans to build another fire station in Riverbank and a study will be done to decide where the fire station should be built from a response time perspective and a growth perspective, according to Bradley.
“We are growing and so we are putting money away for that right now and again we may start with two and two but the idea is that we would get to three and three (station staffing) at some point,” added Bradley. “So we are excited about that.”