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July 20, 2010 > Fire departments merge

Fire departments merge

By Shavon Walker

Union City Fire Department formally joined the Alameda County Fire Department (ACFD) family on July 1. Members of Union City City Council, Human Relations Committee and Planning Commission were present for the ceremony.

Consolidation was originally suggested after the Loma Prieta earthquake and the Oakland Hills firestorm when coverage issues arose between cities. Costs of equipment, services and training were also considered as the recession took hold and, eventually, Dublin, San Leandro and Newark joined ACFD. Union City is the latest city to merge with county's fire department.

Deputy City Manager Tony Acosta welcomed attendees and introduced the ACFD Honor Guard, who posted the American and California state flags. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited and the Reverend Joe Brown delivered the invocation. Mayor Mark Green also welcomed guests and visitors and made further introductions.

ACFD's Chief Sheldon Gilbert remarked on his optimistic view of the merger, saying that it was "a great idea". He pointed out that the cities under ACFD now have a larger pool of services from which to choose and that the cost of resources and overhead were being shared, which keeps costs down.

"We consider it a privilege to be a part of your community," he said, turning to the firefighters. "We look forward to making this a productive endeavor."

Gilbert presented Mayor Green and City Manager Larry Cheeves with an ACFD helmet and shield, each symbolic of the Fire Department's commitment to the community.

The Fire Chief introduced Union City Fire Chief Carlos Rodriguez before presenting him with an award as a memento of his service. Rodriguez made a short speech afterward, thanking the city for his opportunity to serve as Fire Chief. He wished the firefighters well.

"As long as I've been Fire Chief, my first priority has been to stand by these men."

Fire Chief Rodriguez, Deputy Fire Chiefs David Rocha and Demetrious N. Shaffer and Assistant Chief Andy Smith were all recognized and their status as part of ACFD was formally acknowledged. Gilbert then swore in the new department and Chaplain Larry Vold gave the benediction.

"This will save Union City a lot of money," said Battalion Chief Ronnie Oatis. "A lot of our expenses will be paid for by ACFD, so the city won't have to."

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