Two Vallejo fire stations close over budget

March 6, 2008 2:57:05 PM PST
In Vallejo, two fire stations are shutdown today -- the first victims of emergency cost cutting measures designed to keep the city out of bankruptcy. But, firefighters are afraid homes and businesses could be at risk.

When you close down fire stations you have to make sure you don't leave any expensive equipment behind, but it is also tough to ignore the pieces of personal history drawing to a close.

"We were doing pretty good, until we found a bunch of pictures in everyone's lockers, pictures of us out here with little kids," said Capt. Erick Diaz, Vallejo fire department.

Not only sad for those who lived inside the fire station, but for those living around them as well.

"My son used to come up, he's 9-years-old now, and he would come up and they would let him sit on the fire truck and they would talk to him and stuff. We voted here, it's going to be really different with it closed," said Gloria August, Vallejo resident.

The city of Vallejo decided it had to close two fire stations in order to avoid declaring bankruptcy. The closures will save the city more then $3 million dollars a year. Officials had to look to public safety cuts, because that is what eats up more then 70 percent of the budget.

"There is nowhere else to cut, so you take the biggest brunt of the cuts because you absorb so much of the budget," said Chief Russ Sherman, Vallejo fire department.

The station on Fifth Street was chosen because it is inside the city's core and is surrounded by three other stations. They don't think response times will be too affected.

"We anticipate somewhere between 45 seconds to a minute and half," said Chief Russ Sherman.

Unless there is more then one fire burning at the same time, that's when they are worried they will be stretched too thin. But the city has a very different fire it is trying to put out right now with its depleted budget. And to help out the firefighters are not only moving out, they have also agreed to a 6.5 percent pay cut.

"We have to do what we have to do to help the city. So hopefully, everybody steps up like we did and we'll pull out of this together," said Capt. Erick Diaz.

Firefighters will also cut the number of firefighters they have on duty around the city from 28 to 22. These closures may be temporary; it is still up for discussion as the city continues to look for money.