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March 3, 2010 > Alameda County Fire Department to provide fire services

Alameda County Fire Department to provide fire services

By Meenu Gupta

City of Newark has been considering a contract for fire services with the Alameda County Fire Department (ACFD). A five-year agreement was unanimously approved by Council, on February 25, between the City of Newark and the ACFD to provide fire and emergency response services for the city's residents.

A partnership with ACFD could mean an estimated $600,000 savings in the first year and similar savings in each subsequent year, provide full administrative functionality and reduced workloads for other departments. Total estimated savings over the five-year period amount to approximately $2.7M. If Union City also contracts with ACFD, the savings for Newark increase to around $3.4M.

Council signed an agreement with Citygate Associates in October 2008 for a joint feasibility study for contractual fire services with Union City. A detailed analysis explored the possibility of a fire service model for the City of Newark to reduce current fire service costs while providing the means to meet Standards of Cover (SOC) level staffing. Citygate concluded a consolidation between Union City and Newark Fire Departments would not result in material savings for Newark at current service levels and would cost additional money to reach desired SOC staffing levels.

"We were forced to do this because of the economic conditions but it works for the City. I commend Fire Chief Shaffer who demoted himself and became Assistant Chief in the process, which is amazing," said Vice-Mayor Alberto Huezo.

The contract means the city will see many benefits including a reduced work load for other departments, such as Human Resources administration and significant cost-savings with a full-service fire department. The city will continue to own the infrastructure like fire stations and frontline emergency response vehicles and onboard equipment.

ACFD is an independent special district and is not funded by the County's General Fund. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is ACFD's governing body. ACFD will provide fire suppression, hazardous materials response, heavy and technical rescue, disaster preparedness and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) management. All these services will be performed with a fire suppression staff consisting of three fire companies, one Quint and two engines, each with a Captain, Fire Engineer, Firefighter and fire prevention staff (a Deputy Fire Marshal and a Fire Code Compliance Officer) per day.

ACFD will take the agreement to the Board of Supervisors for approval and implementation. Full transition will take 18-24 months to complete.

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