The district says the acre of land will be used when the district replaces its station at 300 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park, a project scheduled to begin mid-year. The purchase funds came from the reserve for the station project.
At a Dec. 19 fire board meeting, only Director Chuck Bernstein voted against the mid-year budget authorizations. "I believe none of these are crisis issues, and they can be brought back to us in January," he said.
The board gave the chief permission to make the following unbudgeted expenditures:
• Add a chief officer who would be stationed at the district's new East Palo Alto warehouse Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at a six-month cost of $125,000.
• Order a new $1.35 million ladder truck.
• Allocate $500,000 for improvements at the new East Palo Alto warehouse and another $500,000 for the residential property the district purchased this year in Atherton.
The board put off a decision on several other requests the chief had made, including hiring three additional firefighters, a new administrative specialist and a fire inspector, and promoting an employee.
Chief Schapelhouman had asked the board to approve the mid-year budget adjustments that he said are necessary as the fire district experiences "unparalleled transformation in the form of new construction, population growth, worsening traffic congestion, peak commute gridlock, (and) roadway reductions."
He said the district is "essentially bifurcated Monday through Friday" from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and has experienced more emergency calls that it has more difficulty getting to.
The chief said much of the $1.35 million cost of a new ladder truck will be offset by returning the combination ladder and pumper truck the district paid $1 million for in 2017.
He said the combination vehicle "has been out of service for half the time we've owned it with various electronic sensor and other problems, which is unusual and unacceptable."
He said the district wants to move from a combination vehicle back to two separate vehicles, a practice that has "been time-tested and is always reliable."
The funding for the improvements to the warehouse and Atherton property will come from the district's building reserves.
Mr. Bernstein became the new board president on Jan. 1. The vote to appoint him to the ceremonial position was unanimous, but came only after Peter Carpenter nominated Rob Silano to be president. Mr. Silano seconded his own nomination after no one else did so, but he got only the votes of Mr. Carpenter and himself.
Virginia Chang Kiraly was elected vice president on a 4-1 vote, with Mr. Carpenter opposed, and new board member Robert Jones joining Ms. Chang Kiraly, Mr. Bernstein and Mr. Silano in voting yes.
This story contains 518 words.
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