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Fire Board to consider revising its compensation policy at 19 July meeting

Original post made by peter carpenter on Jul 14, 2011

MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
PROPOSED REVISIONS TO BOARD POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL SECTION 5.11
EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION PHILOSOPHY

The Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District ("District") hereby adopts this policy concerning the compensation of its employees. The District's Board of Directors shall observe this policy when adopting compensation plans and contracts covering District employees.

Core Principles
Principle No. 1 - Recruitment and Retention: Compensation should, when economically feasible, be set at a level sufficient to recruit and retain employees who are qualified and committed to provide high quality services to the community. One critical measure of whether compensation meets this criterion is whether there are a sufficient number of qualified applicants for advertised job openings.

Principle No. 2 - Fairness: The Board shall strive to ensure its compensation program is fair and equitable from all legitimate perspectives, including the perspectives of the community, labor and management. The District may choose to survey public and private employers to evaluate the appropriateness and fairness of its compensation program. The Board is directly accountable to the District's constituents, and the Board accordingly retains the discretion to determine the fairness of all compensation programs.

Principle No. 3 - Transparency: Compensation for all District employees should be 100% transparent -- i.e., the public should be able to see all pay elements, including the cost of all health, pension and welfare benefits, applicable to each employee. District pay packages should be simple and easily understood. Safeguards must be in place to prevent abuses such as pension spiking and maximizing overtime through manipulation.

Principle No. 4 - Fiscal Sustainability: All compensation commitments must be made consistent with principles of fiscal sustainability and to ensure the District's long term success in achieving its mission. Compensation adjustments must not compromise the District's ability to successfully meet its ongoing and future financial commitments.

The Board shall observe its Labor Relations Policy and Plan.

Principle No. 5 - Accountability: All compensation commitments must be expressly delineated and are subject to formal approval by the Board of Directors. The Board will not abide "implied" or unwritten contracts, or unspecified "past practices," that purport to require employee compensation.

Principle No. 6 - Performance Based Pay: Whenever reasonably possible, compensation shall be tied to merit and performance. The District shall not permit pay increases based merely on the length of employment.

Principle No. 7 - Economic Climate: The District shall consider the overall economic climate and condition affecting the District and its constituents when setting compensation levels, including regional economic indicators such as the rate of unemployment, inflation, current and projected revenues, and the District's anticipated ability to pay in the long term.

Principle No. 8 - Legal Compliance: The District will ensure that its pay practices comport with the Fair Labor Standards Act and, to the extent legally applicable, State law. The District renews its commitment to negotiate in good faith with labor pursuant to the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act ("MMBA"), and to abide by all requirements of the MMBA.

Principle No. 9 - Flexibility: The District shall strive to remain flexible and innovative in light of changing conditions and improving technologies, and shall continually re-evaluate its pay practices to ensure they are consistent with best practices.

Comments (27)

Posted by Roy Desoto, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2011 at 7:23 am

What is the current practice and how does this represent a change?

Does this apply to Director benefits as well? It's incredulous that they get benefits for a part time, elected position. Seems to me the practice is in conflict with principles 2, 3, 6, 7, and 9.


Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 15, 2011 at 8:57 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the existing policy - the proposed changes are obvious:
9.13 Fire Board Employee Compensation Philosophy
The Fire Board values its represented and unrepresented employees and seeks to provide equitable compensation for each group and classification.
In determining any compensation increases, decreases, or adjustments, the Fire Board of Directors shall consider, weigh, and be guided by all the following criteria:
A. State And Federal Laws Applicable To The Menlo Park Fire Protection
District: The District must consider, relevant laws.
B. The Interests and Welfare Of The Public And The Financial Ability Of The District: The District must ensure that General Fund revenue can sustain both the compensation levels and core services to the public.
C. Recruitment And Retention: The District must consider its ability to attract and retain highly qualified employees.
D. Internal Comparability/Alignment: The District must consider options for avoiding inappropriate compaction between or within
classifications, consider appropriate internal comparability among
classifications, and consider alignment between and within job
classifications.
E. Comparability: The District shall compare the total or overall
compensation it offers to its represented and unrepresented employees
with that offered by comparable cities, counties, districts and other
agencies providing fire services. Overall compensation includes direct
wage compensation, vacations, holidays, paid leave time, insurance,
pensions, medical benefits, continuity and stability of employment,
uniform allowance, educational incentive pay, and all other benefits
provided to represented and unrepresented employees.
F. Consumer Price Index: The District shall consider the cost of living as measured by the relevant U.S. Department of Labor Consumer Price Index.
G. Labor And Employment Standards: The District shall consider any
other facts, not confined to those specified in paragraphs A-E, normally or traditionally taken into consideration in making compensation determinations.


Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 15, 2011 at 8:59 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

DeSoto states:"Does this apply to Director benefits as well? It's incredulous that they get benefits for a part time, elected position. Seems to me the practice is in conflict with principles 2, 3, 6, 7, and 9."

I couldn't agree more. I don't receive a single penny or any financial benefits from the Fire District for my service on the Board.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2011 at 10:08 am

Right On Peter,

Ball is in your court Roy....


Posted by Roy Desoto, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

Michael, happy to know you're in Peter's camp on this. We should all remember that when you run for County Supervisor for the umpteenth time. Your platform should include refusal of compensation and benefits as well.

I'm satisfied with Peter's response and commitment to reduce the bloat in the MPFPD. The Director entitlements are a great place to start. Kudos to Peter for realizing the inappropriateness of even considering them. Time to bring the rest of the board into line.

This proposal is DOA. Too much at stake for the elected representatives. Peter, prove me wrong.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Roy says,

"Michael, happy to know you're in Peter's camp on this. We should all remember that when you run for County Supervisor for the umpteenth time. Your platform should include refusal of compensation and benefits as well."

Supervisor Don Horsley spent $400,000 of other peoples money with the campaign promise to refuse compensation and benefits. If he is Supervisor for 12 years x $150,000 =$1,800,000 plus $400,000 thats $2.2M for the seat. I was asked by a reporter if I would match Don's promise I responded _ _ _ _ No.


Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Roy states:"This proposal is DOA. Too much at stake for the elected representatives. Peter, prove me wrong."

Wrong. Look at item 20 on the 19 July Board agenda:

"Consider, Discuss and Provide Direction to Staff on Board of Directora Compensation and Reimbursement."


Posted by Roy Desoto, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm

@ Peter, I suppose I'm a bit cynical. If you get the rest of the MPFPD board to give up their paid health insurance, badges, turn out gear, fire radios, etc I will be impressed. Go for it. But, I think you have an uphill battle.

@ Michael, I'm confused. You applaud Peter for refusing the benefits. But, you'll take them because Don Horsely's seat costs $2.2 million over 12 years? Bizarre.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Roy - the much more important issue is the proposed new compensation policy. I am stunned that there are no comments on that policy.
Everyone complains about public service compensation but no one seems prepared to read and comment on this proposed policy - strange.


Posted by Roy Desoto, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Michael commented, "right on". Looks like the perpetual candidate is on your side. What more do you want?

Frankly, with the MPFPD on the gravy train with a good chunk of the property tax slice (17% of the 1% which comes back to the county for the homes in the district), the MPFPD is off everyone's radar.

With a $30+ million budget, it should be on people's radar, but it's not like they are going to save a dime in taxes if the district becomes more efficient. At best they might get additional services. Perhaps they could come change the smoke detector batteries at my home.

Bottom line, it's time to tackle the most egregious abuses. And, the Board perks are low hanging fruit.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Roy - If people simply want the low hanging fruit rather than dealing with the really big issues then we are doomed to mediocrity.


Posted by Roy Desoto, a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2011 at 7:31 am

MPFPD is a bureaucracy. It exists to provide services. Though Max Weber would tell you bureaucracies are efficient, I think most understand they are not. They deliver services, but suffer from traits which have them gravitate toward mediocrity. Many a book have been written on bureaucracies. No need to recap them here.

Assuming I have no choice but to embrace MPFPD's mediocrity, I'll accept the Board giving up their entitlements. Granted, it would be a symbolic gesture. What's a few grand in a $30 million budget? The answer is found in credibility. How can the Board crack down on entitlements when it receives them?

I think George Will captures the essence: "Politicians fascinate because they constitute such a paradox; they are an elite that accomplishes mediocrity for the public good."


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2011 at 7:45 am

Roy can accept mediocrity but I will not.

The Fire District Board has a responsibility to the citizens whom it serves to maximize the effectiveness of every tax dollar. Since over 80% of our costs are personnel costs that means ensuring that we have a fundamentally sound compensation policy - something that most local agencies don't even address. For example, basing compensation on being above average for other local agencies is an exercise is madness. When you have more than 100 applicants for every vacancy the clear message is that salary and benefits exceed what the market requires. And taxpayers need to be given the opportunity to comment on these matters long before new salary and benefit agreements are negotiated and brought to the Board for its approval.


Posted by Roy Desoto, a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2011 at 8:21 am

If you offer minimum wage, you would still have 100 candidates. Heck, many state prisoners participate in fire crews. Would they not make qualified applicants as well?

I offer these points to take the argument to the extreme. You're on the right track to pay market compensation, but your policy does not define qualifications, instead leaving that to some undefined community survey.

I think your policy, while well intentioned, does more to perpetuate the bureaucracy (and mediocrity) than it does to pursue excellence or efficiency. As I see it, many of the practices you envision will slow the agency's ability to be flexible.

Read the following (cliff notes version of a longer book) and tell me how your proposal helps MPFPD become a more efficient, less mediocre organization: Web Link

In evaluating your proposal through this prism and see more of the same. I see a hamstrung organization which will ultimately become more expensive.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

Roy - you are simply playing word games. The Fire Board's responsibility is to maximize the value of every tax dollar. Looking at your reference I am comfortable that MPFPD scores very positive against its stated negative criteria:
"Customers call an organization "bureaucratic" if it:
Has rigid policies and procedures that customers think of as "red tape."
Is so committed to giving customers "equal treatment" that it doesn't notice that
equal treatment means "unequal satisfaction."
Seems inflexible and unresponsive.
Has standard procedures that don't satisfy the customers.
Seems very difficult to get exceptions approved.
Appears "uncaring," i.e., customers are treated more like "numbers" than individuals.
Is unwilling to admit mistakes, and attempts to shift blame for their own mistakes, onto the customer.
Seldom innovates, and seems reluctant to change as times change or events dictate.
Has products and services of inferior quality (compared with non-bureaucratic organizations).
Is hard to reach during "company" hours, and during busy periods may not be reachable at all.
Seems arrogant or humorless."

Focussing on the proposal at hand it is clear that the Fire Board is proposing to become more flexible and more responsive to its customers with this new compensation policy.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2011 at 9:46 am

The purpose of posting the proposed compensation policy was to solicit citizen input on that policy. None of the posted comments have responded to that invitation.

This policy, if adopted, will have a significant impact on the Fire Board's approach to establishing negotiation objectives for future contracts and to achieving more community appropriate compensation.

Please read the proposal and provide your feedback on one or more of the nine principles. (If you want to comment on other issues please start a new topic on your chosen issue.)


Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 16, 2011 at 10:23 am

Henry Riggs is a registered user.

After the unfortunate pay and benefit promises made over last decade, to forget the lessons learned would be tragic.

This is an excellent compensation policy for MPFPD, an idea other agencies should consider as well. Starting with current negotiations, we need a clear policy that reflects the needs of the district and its residents.


Posted by DeAngelo, a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2011 at 10:46 am

It looks like good principles: 3,4,6,7,9...

That said, I doubt #6 will be implemented and any of the above will truly be enforced. Unions fight accountability, and protect all members, including the mediocre. (Why are the cowards of Crown Beach still drawing hefty paychecks from Alameda?)

I would prefer a simple

"1. The city will periodically review all options available in the market, and choose the one that delivers the most effective and efficient value for its constituents, including outsourcing, privatizing, downsizing (as technology decreases the need for staff or rates of utilization fall). Incumbent firefighters will be given the chance to match savings potential of best option."

This insures the department delivers service for the market rate, which is what taxpayers should be paying. The public sector is bloated and inefficient and needs competition. We got to the moon in a decade when we had competition (the Soviets).


Posted by mickie winkler, a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2011 at 5:26 pm

while I am mindful and appreciative of what fire fighters do, I note the following:
There are hundreds of qualified firefighters for every job opening.
Now firefighters in our district make circa $100,000 a year in salary (sorry, I don't have exact figures accessible right now.
Many have 2nd jobs.
Many will also receive social security.
Firefighters can retire at 50 and get 90% of salary for life after 30 years.
According to CalPERS, the fire-fighter mortality rates are the same as they are for all other retirees.

The system of setting salaries commensurate with all neighboring departments has caused firefighter salaries to spiral up. Now it is time for them to spiral down in recognition of the huge over supply.


Posted by Roy Desoto, a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Peter, I know I'm not welcome at your party. Apparently, you were expecting hundreds of public employee benefit bashers to suddenly climb aboard your train. A few showed after some begging.

But, to your point, below are my comments on your principles. You won't like them. But, you can't say I strayed off topic ;)


***

Principle No. 1 - Recruitment and Retention:

Again, you have not defined standards. There will be hundreds of applicants for minimum wage firefighter jobs, but do you really want those candidates? What is the criteria for candidates?

Principle No. 2 - Fairness:

Does this mean the Board will be negotiating directly with the firefighters? Who will be conducting the survey and will it be made public (see item 3)?

Principle No. 3 - Transparency: Compensation for all District employees should be 100% transparent

How does this differ from today. Isn't this already published on the website? I found the Board of Director entitlements on the site (scanners, badges, turnout gear, and a cushy medical plan). Is it transparent that the board receives such entitlements with few people knowing?

Or, are you suggesting that negotiations will be conducted in open meetings subject to the Brown Act?

Principle No. 4 - Fiscal Sustainability:

While this makes sense, its also patently obvious that the District should not be having any challenges. WIth a $30+ million budget, providing services should not be particularly challenging. Oh, forgot about the smoke detector battery replacement program ...

The bureaucracy has expanded to absorb the available funds. They have hired unnecessary staff to support a bunch of bloat. To that end, it's not only compensation which presents challenges in making ends meet. A 17% chunk of the 1% given back to the County for homes in the district. I think most City Governments receive only 10%.

Principle No. 5 - Accountability: All compensation commitments must be expressly delineated and are subject to formal approval by the Board of Directors.

Doesn't this knife cut both ways? I'm sure the MPFPD has policies and procedures which are bent to make the engine run from time to time. I'm reminded of the unfortunate death in Alameda recently where those guys were told not to perform water rescues. If you want to be black and white about past practices and the spirit of the agreement, then it seems reasonable to expect similar treatment of policies and procedures.

Principle No. 6 - Performance Based Pay:

Are you discussing total compensation or salary? Typically, organizations reward years of as an incentive to get employees to stay. There is a cost of replacing them, though with apparent lines around the block for open positions, that isn't currently a huge concern of yours. The "probie" gets paid the same as a 10 year firefighter principle.

Principle No. 7 - Economic Climate:

Sounds like the "which way is the political wind blowing" principle. If people are out of work, start taking from the evil firefighters?

Principle No. 8 - Legal Compliance:

Yes, always good to obey the laws. How could anyone argue the obvious?

Principle No. 9 - Flexibility:

Who dictates the "best practices" to which you refer? Are they published in a "best practices manual"? Or, do you survey the people on the message boards??


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Roy - Thank you for your specific comments. They will be useful when this item is discussed by the Board.

I am pleased that you found the information you needed on the District's web site - that is what transparency is all about.


Posted by Thomas, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Roy Desoto... You point out many of the problems that could be easily resolved if the Menlo Park and Atherton city councils had a meeting of the minds and dissolved the ridiculously over funded MPFPD in favor of consolidation. One possible solution was the model implemented in Hillsbourgh and Burlingame that I referenced on the thread: "Fire District Labor Board Hearing to Finish on Friday" June 23rd @ 10:41 P.M. and went largely unnoticed except for Mr. Carpenter's response in pointing out my failure to recognize that an East Palo Alto resident, Steve Kennedy, had once served on the Fire Board eight years ago.

While Mr. Carpenter occasionally mentions his support on consolidation of the MPFPD on The Almanac threads and other online threads, I have never once read any possible solutions on how he would like to accomplish this. Every suggestion I've ever read on consolidation by others, whether it's Cal Fire or models such as Hillsborough have always been quickly dismissed for a variety of reasons he would never even consider. I suspect he takes this position if only because his primary mission is to outsource everything but his beloved MPFPD but then claims he's "stunned" that there are no comments on this thread or on the same post he published on Palo Alto Online. What is there to say? Every suggestion that he does not agree with is always met with his "wrong as usual" or anonymous posters have no credibility.

As you say, after some begging a few people coughed up some praise which was the real purpose of this thread and in my opinion the status quo and mediocrity on this issue will continue until the city managers and town councils either put it on their radar or are forced to look for other ways to deal with their budget deficits.








Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Thomas is wrong again. He just doesn't do his homework or stay on topic.

Here are just three of my many postings on fire consolidation:

1) Fire and emergency services consolidation proposal
Around Town, posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 26, 2011 at 10:46 am
peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

I am a long time advocate of consolidation as a way of increasing both efficiency and effectiveness of public services. Given the challenges facing local governments now is the time to think boldly.

I propose that we form a MidPeninsula Fire Protection District that would provide fire protection and emergency services to Palo Alto, Stanford, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton and adjacent unincorporated areas. At some later stage contiguous jurisdictions both north and south would be invited to join this fire district. I am confident that such an agency could both increase the current service levels and decrease the cost per citizen of these services.

What is needed? Leadership by elected officials who are willing to look across the county line, creative thinking by the fire professionals, advocacy by concerned tax payers and information from the press on the pros and cons of such an undertaking.

2 - Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Both MPFPD and PA have excellent fire departments but bewteen them they have two chiefs, two deputies, many battalion chiefs and numerous other overhead positions - in a merged department half of these would go away. The two departments have a very long common border which leads to suboptimal station location and staffing on the two sides of that border. For example PA's SLAC station is much better positioned to serve Sand Hill Road than is MPFPD's Station 4 on the Alameda. For the sam amount of total expenditure all of the covered citizens could get much better coverage or they could get the same coverage as they currently have for significantly less money.

In my corporate and government experience things like finance and HR are fungible and a good finance office or HR office could serve both communities with fewer people that the combined current staffs and, I suspect, do a better job given the economies of scale.

3 - Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2011 at 8:56 am
peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

Roy - Rest assured that your Fire District has long been the leading advocate for wide spread fire and emergency services consolidation. MPFPD lead the way for the current San Mateo County wide fire dispatch system (which santa Clara County still does not have) and boundary drops.

See the many prior Forum Topics on this issue:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


Posted by Charles, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Couldn't agree more with Mickie. Also share deAngelos skepticism with the public sector. I think peters points about consolidation are irrefutable. The old inneficient way of doing things needs to stop.


Posted by Thomas, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 16, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Mr. Carpenter, your consolidation proposals always incorporate a fire protection district which in my opinion is an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. The Hillsborough model puts the control with the city managers and town councils and eliminates the need for costly elections every couple of years as well as provides greater transparency. As you say, "leadership by elected officials" will take care of this bloat when they have to start looking for additional ways to meet their budgets. You are well aware that as a temporary city manager, Mr. Danielson is only in a position to meet your city's budget by cutting off the "low hanging fruit". His statements on outsourcing the APD to the sheriff's department clearly reflects the sentiments of the majority of town residents.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 17, 2011 at 12:38 am

Peter
I agree consolidation would better serve the area and on paper at least cut costs. My only concern is that in reality we the taxpayers would see no savings. What are the chances we would actually see our property tax bills decrease? What is the current cost to each household for fire service and what is the cost to each household for emergency medical response? How much would these costs decrease?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 17, 2011 at 5:20 am

Thomas states:"Mr. Carpenter, your consolidation proposals always incorporate a fire protection district which in my opinion is an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy"

Wrong and off topic. Neither Orange County or San Francisco, two of the models I have proposed, are fire districts. Please do your homework before making false assertions.

*******************
A great way for local agencies to save big bucks
Around Town, posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 22, 2010 at 7:52 am
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

It is now very apparent that the drop in property tax and other revenues will finally force local governments to revise their budgets. This is also a perfect time to make one very big cost saving change - consolidate all San Mateo fire agencies into one entity and also give that consolidated agency the responsibility for ambulance service (which is currently contracted out by the county to an incredibly poor performing and expensive private company).

Why have 13+ Fire Chiefs, 13+ Training Chiefs, multiple and poorly equipped training facilities, multiple vehicle maintenance facilities, multiple human resources and purchasing facilities? Why have ambulances operated by a private company when the first people on the scene are always highly trained and skilled paramedic firefighters - who are prohibited by the County from providing ambulance service?

Years ago the fire agencies in San Mateo County consolidated their dispatch functions and the result was better service at a lower cost.

Now is the time to consolidate all of the other fire service functions.

Orange County, Sac Metro and the City and County of San Francisco all have consolidated fire departments and they all operate superb ambulance systems. There is no need to reinvent this organizational model - learn from it and build on it.

Sometimes difficult change can only occur when there is a crisis - well folks, we have a crisis so let's make this very important change.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 22, 2010 at 8:09 am
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

Here is the Orange County Fire Authority story:

Prior to May, 1980, fire service for the cities of Cypress, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Placentia, San Juan Capistrano, Tustin, Villa Park, and Yorba Linda along with the County unincorporated areas was provided by the California Department of Forestry (CDF)*. However, on May 16, 1980, the Orange County Fire Department (OCFD) was formed as a county department reporting to the Board of Supervisors. It's first Fire Chief was Larry Holmes. Fifty-two percent of the 518,483 residents served by the OCFD lived in unincorporated areas of the County.

However, over the course of the next decade, five new cities were formed from unincorporated territory and two additional cities decided to contract with OCFD for fire service. As a result, by January 1, 1991, over 80% of OCFD's service population of 808,139 lived within these sixteen cities. Yet their fire service was still governed by the Board of Supervisors. The cities wanted greater input into how their emergency services were provided. Clearly a new form of governance was needed for these new circumstances.

During 1991, the OCFD was on its way exploring the possibility of forming a special district as an independent entity governed by a board of directors representing the member cities and the County. The California Government Code dealing with special districts was studied, other fire protection districts were contacted, and services the new agency would need to provide were identified (i.e. investment services, employee benefits, payroll, and purchasing). Discussions had begun with the County about transferring title of the fire stations to the new organization. However, although a great deal of enthusiasm and effort was poured into this project, unforeseen difficulties prevented the formation of a special district.

Nevertheless, the dream did not die and the momentum was soon recaptured. A new governance structure, a Joint Powers Authority (JPA), was selected. Much of the previous work was used in this endeavor. By 1994 the plans and structure of the new agency were well underway. The County Board of Supervisors, the various City Councils, the OCFD labor groups, and management were all pulling together to launch the new JPA. Then on December 6, 1994, the County of Orange declared bankruptcy. Yet, inspite of this almost insurmountable obstacle, the dreams and plans were brought to fruition and the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), under Interim Fire Chief Ken Mcleod, was formed on March 1, 1995. The County bankruptcy, which was merely coincidental to the JPA formation, had not derailed the efforts.

Since then, the OCFA has continued to grow. Three more cities contracted with the OCFA for service and three new cities incorporated. The helicopter program was begun in 1995 and in 1997 Chip Prather was appointed the new Fire Chief. The move to the recently completed Regional Fire and Operations Training Center (RFOTC) finished in May of 2004 and in 2009 Keith Richter became the OCFA's third Fire Chief.

* - In 1980, the cities of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, La Habra, Newport Beach, Orange, San Clemente, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, and Westminster had their own municipal fire departments. Since then, Buena Park, San Clemente, Seal Beach, Stanton, and Westminster joined the OCFD/OCFA.

Report Objectionable Content

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 22, 2010 at 8:12 am
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

Here is the San Francisco Fire Department story:

Established in 1866, the San Francisco Fire Department is rich in tradition and history. From the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 to the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989, the Department has grown to meet the many challenges along the way. Today, the San Francisco Fire Department serves an estimated 1.5 million people, providing fire suppression and emergency medical services to the residents, visitors and workers within San Francisco's 49 square miles.

To find out more about the San Francisco Fire Department, we invite you to explore our website. Here you will find information links to learn about our history, outlines of the Department's organization and operations, information about the programs and services we offer to the public and highlights of the Department's many achievements.

SFFD Emergency Medical Services

The San Francisco Fire Department is a permitted ambulance provider in the City and County of San Francisco, dedicated to providing excellent EMS care for the full spectrum of medical emergencies. The Department follows the local ambulance ordinance and adheres to the policies and protocols for pre-hospital care set by the San Francisco Emergency Medical Services Agency (SF EMSA). All Department paramedics and firefighter/paramedics are licensed by the State of California EMS Authority and accredited with SF EMSA. All emergency medical technicians and firefighter/EMTs are certified with SF EMSA. All accreditation, certification and licensing is in accordance with Division 2.5 of the Health and Safety Code, the California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Division 9, and SF EMSA policies 2040 and 2050.
*************
Now let's get back on this topic - the Fire Board's propposeal to revise its compensation policy.


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