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Menlo fire board has no official comment on fiscal study

Original post made on Feb 22, 2018

The board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District has decided to remain mum, at least officially, on the report of the fire district's finances commissioned by the town of Atherton.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 22, 2018, 11:17 AM

Comments (5)

8 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Is it time or appropriate for the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury to take a look at the goings on at the fire district?

5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2018 at 2:07 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Is it time or appropriate for the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury to take a look at the goings on at the fire district?"

I suspect they would welcome it. There isn't better managed government agency around that I can think of.

2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 22, 2018 at 7:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I suspect they would welcome it."


The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for FY 2016-17 has been completed and
has received an unqualified (clean) opinion from the District’s auditors, the accounting firm of
The Pun Group Accountants and Advisors. In performing the audit, the auditors reviewed the
District’s internal control structure in order to determine whether or not any procedural
deficiencies were present in significant areas of operation. This review is not designed to provide
complete assurance of the internal control structure, but rather a systematic examination of key
procedures and operational processes. In the most recent audit, covering fiscal year 2016-17, the
auditors noted no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses.
For the current year audit of internal control, there were no findings to report.
A. CAFR 2016-17 posted at
Web Link

16 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 23, 2018 at 12:43 pm

I would love to see an outside audit of the MPFPD but more importantly is the cities and residents view on whether spending millions of dollars on buying properties "will not need for at least a decade" and then using them to house staff/firefighters is a good use of our tax dollars. The same can be said about the level of pay and the exorbitant over time that gets paid.

I think Atherton is on the right track. The City Council has a responsibility to their constituents to make sure they get what they pay for. Paying out an additional $7 million a year for services they are not getting is not fiscally responsible. I will encourage Menlo Park to take the same look as Atherton.

3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 3, 2018 at 1:37 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The district is currently negotiating to buy another house in unincorporated Menlo Park, near its Alameda de las Pulgas fire station."


Fire District Purchases Property behind Fire Station 4 in the Unincorporated County Area

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District has purchased a 6000 square foot residential lot with a
1980’s single family, 2,050 square foot single story, three bed and two bath home directly behind
its oldest Fire Station located at 3322 Alameda De Las Pulgas in the Unincorporated County Area.

The residential property, located at 2110 Valparaiso Avenue was purchased for $3.2 million
dollars. The previous owners had been trying to lease the property and were the original owners
of the home. The home is located behind the existing Fire Station property which made it highly
desirable to the Fire District for future expansion needs.

Fire Station 4 was built in 1949, or 69 years ago, long before most, if any, of the current homes and surrounding area existed. The older wood building is not seismically braced and is not equipped with fire sprinklers, modern electrical wiring and plumbing. The three apparatus bay back in Fire Station can only accommodate four firefighters and two Fire Engines and a smaller cross staffed Patrol unit.

The $ 3.2 million dollar purchase is considered “strategic” by the Fire District’s Chief and Board of
Directors because the combined properties increase the land area owned by the District to
28,560 square feet which will allow the Fire District to rebuild a code compliant, safer, modern,
larger and more functional fire and emergency services facility.

The District has contemplated this property acquisition for many years, but only after a recent
study by consultants Citygate LLC, which validated that the Station location was more than adequate, did the Fire Chief propose to the Fire Board that he work with Realtor Nino Gaetano with Pacific Union Real Estate and attempt to purchase the property.

Fire Chief Schapelhouman said, “We are currently focused on finishing Fire Station 6 located in
downtown Menlo Park. We recently started programming and looking at preliminary designs for
Fire Station 1 and our Training Center on Middlefield Road. That project will be rebuilt in two
Phases, followed by the rebuilding Fire Station 4 on Alameda De Las Pulgas. Outside of a few
other smaller projects, it is currently the number two priority on the replacement list for
rebuilding Fire Stations”.

“These essential service structures are 60 and 70 years old and in serious need of replacement and
modernization. It will take us about 10 years, or more, to rebuild both of these facilities. That
requires that we continue to save and set-aside funds for the actual Stations and go through the
design, planning, permitting and public hearing process before we can rebuild a new facility”, the
Chief said.

Fire Station 4 has one of the largest and unique areas in the Fire District. 37% of its response area
is located in the Town of Atherton (upper Atherton), 44%, is in the City of Menlo Park (upper
Menlo and Sharon Heights), 18% is in the Unincorporated County Areas including West Menlo
Park, the Sequoia Tract, Stanford Weekend Acres and 1% includes the SLAC National Accelerator
and Laboratory which is on contract for Fire and Emergency Services.

Station 4 is the Fire District’s fourth busiest Station. The Engine and three person crew responded
to 1269 emergency incidents in 2017, out of 9,049 emergencies District wide for all seven Fire

The Fire District has made several other strategic Fire Station property acquisitions in the last year
including purchasing properties next door to its main Fire Station 1 from Saint Patrick’s Seminary
located in Menlo Park and Fire Station 3 located in Atherton.

After hiring a commercial real estate agent in 2006, the Fire District realized it was far more
practical and cost effective to purchase property next to existing Fire Stations, then it would be to change locations. It was also more palatable to the community.

In 2006 and 2008 the Fire District purchased two residential properties behind its Fire Station 2 in
East Palo Alto. Once the recession was over, the homes were torn down and the area was used as
part of an overall drive through configuration needed to modernize a much larger Fire facility that
opened in 2016.

The Fire District used the same practice in 2008 when it purchased a residential lot and home
behind its Fire Station 6 located in downtown Menlo Park. The house is temporarily being used
to house the Fire Crew while the new Station is being finished and will be torn down once the
Station is completed to make way for the drive through access, secondary structures and
parking for the new building.

“Fire Station 6 wasn’t started until Station 2 was almost finished and similar to both projects,
it’s taken us about ten years to acquire property, plan, design, permit, build and finish these
projects but it wouldn’t have worked without the additional land and space” the Fire Chief

Fire Station 6 is almost finished and scheduled to re-open in the next Couple months. The
house behind the Station was purchased by the District in order to expand the facility.

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