San Carlos votes to outsource fire services

October 19, 2010 12:34:37 AM PDT
Hard times mean hard decisions. A Bay Area city that already has decided to outsource police protection voted Monday night to do the same thing with firefighters.

Morale is low at San Carlos fire stations. As many as 24 firefighter positions are on the line now that city leaders have decided to begin the process of outsourcing its fire service.

"As of right now, since they gave notice, the organization is going to cease to exist October of next year. And today, my guys don't have jobs after that point," says Gary Jacobs with the San Carlos Firefighters Association.

The vote was 4-1. For city leaders, it came down to the bottom line. Outsourcing will save over $1 million with apparently no change in the level of service.

"The level of service remains the same. We'll still have two stations that are open. We'll still have comparable staffing and comparable equipment," says Assistant City Manager Brian Moura.

This is just the latest cost-cutting move by San Carlos. The city has already outsourced payroll which has saved $50,000 a year, and landscaping, which has saved $900,000 a year. And in a few weeks, San Carlos will outsource police services to the sheriff's department which is projected to save $2.2 million a year. However, some members of the public say the fire department should be left alone.

It will either be CAL FIRE, Menlo Park, San Mateo or Redwood City that will take over fire services in San Carlos. Each agency must submit a formal proposal which may or may not absorb the firefighters of San Carlos. Some are choosing not to wait it out.

"There's a lot of my guys that are testing in different agencies and looking for other employment until we get some kind of certainty as to what's going on in the communities here," says Moura.

City leaders are moving fast. They're asking agencies interested in taking over their fire department submit their proposals by Dec. 3.


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