The Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District (SCFPD) Board of Directors approved the District’s preliminary 2015-16 budget at Thursday night’s regular board meeting. The $12,546,000 operating budget maintains high levels of service by keeping staffing levels the same and ensuring a well-trained workforce with a focus on firefighter safety. The budget included funding for the implementation of a paramedic program and a reduction in overhead costs through the utilization of technology to automate administrative processes.
Fire Chief Randall Bradley was pleased with the approved preliminary budget on June 4, noting he liked the way it shaped up for this fiscal year.
“Our staff was challenged by the Board to prepare a balanced budget proposal that maintained service levels without raising the District’s assessment. The sharing of our overhead costs with contract agencies and the utilization of technology helped us achieve that goal,” Bradley said.
In 2008, the property owners who live in the Fire District passed a benefit assessment that increased fire staffing and improved overall service levels. Annually, the District evaluates the need to increase the assessment.
“For the past two years, we have been able to maintain service levels without increasing the assessment. Our Board was pretty adamant about ensuring our constituents received the highest level of services possible without raising costs for those we serve,” added Bradley.
The Board also approved the District capital replacement budget, which included the replacement of a water tender, command vehicle and a staff vehicle in the upcoming year. The vehicles will be funded through the District’s vehicle and apparatus replacement fund. Also approved was the second year of a three-year funding plan to replace the fire station in Waterford. Through developer fees and the three-year funding allocation, the District will pay cash for the new facility that is expected to be completed in late 2016.
The District was formed in 1995 when four smaller Districts combined to reduce costs and improve service levels. The District includes unincorporated sections of East Modesto, the cities of Riverbank and Waterford and the communities of Empire, La Grange and Hickman. In September of 2014, the District entered into agreements to provide fire protection services to the City of Oakdale and the Oakdale Fire Protection District, which includes the communities of Valley Home and Knights Ferry. Major industries within the jurisdiction include E & J Gallo Winery, Beard Industrial District, Oak Valley Hospital and the Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant.
Meanwhile, firefighters were extremely busy on Sunday, June 5 as they battled a warehouse blaze and soaring early summer temperatures. Just after noon on Sunday, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District (SCFPD) crews responded to a fire alarm in the 2300 block of Tenaya Street, a large warehouse near the airport in an unincorporated area of Modesto. Upon arrival, fire crews saw smoke coming from the roof of the building and called for additional resources.
When the firefighters entered the building, they discovered the east end of the warehouse was full of large bins of ground-up walnut hulls on fire. The building’s automatic sprinkler system was activated and helped partially control the spread of the flames. Crews quickly realized that the west end of the building was full of fireworks, with a firewall separating the fireworks and burning walnut hulls.
Eight apparatus and 28 firefighters from SCFPD, Modesto and Ceres Fire Departments were involved in the firefighting effort.
Chief Bradley was at the scene and said, “I am very pleased that the crews were able to keep the fire contained to the area where the walnut hulls were being stored.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation.