Oakland may have fewer firefighters on July 4th

July 3, 2012 12:44:24 AM PDT
With the Fourth of July coming up Wednesday, firefighters all over the Bay Area will be on high-alert. Illegal fireworks and dry grass is a dangerous combination. In Oakland, the city will face the holiday with fewer open fire stations.

The illegal fireworks show over west Oakland makes the Fourth of July a busy time for the Oakland Fire Department. But this year, the city will be without two engine companies each day.

"I think we're in a lot of danger; you got a call another fire department from another part of the city," Oakland resident Dejuan Frazier said. "It's going to take that much longer for aresponse time, for them to get over here and everything."

It's called a rotating "brown out," which means a total of eight firefighters will sit out for a three day stretch. It's a budget decision that will save the city $4 million over the fiscal year.

"We've given up 10 percent in salary, we've increased our retirement age, and closing firehouses is something we don't want to see happen, so if they can find any money in their budget we'd like to get those fire houses open," Oakland Firefighters Union spokesperson Zach Unger said.

Recently, the city learned it actually has a budget surplus, but Mayor Jean Quan says it wasn't enough to reopen the fire stations.

"The entire surplus I had after I paid for Occupy was only about $3 million, so we wouldn't have had enough even if they had given the entire surplus back," Quan said.

But Oakland's fire chief says they may ignore the brown out on the Fourth of July.

"And I'm positive that if we have a change in weather patterns that we will probably not brown out or we will just move some stations up to cover so all of our stations will be covered," Chief Teresa Deloach Reed

Reed adds that no stations in the wildland areas will be closed during the fire season.


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