Opposition pieces written against Measure S are long on rhetoric and short on specifics. One gentleman from Discovery Bay exemplified this general pattern with his recent letter to the editor. He clearly supports a Paid On Call program and stated that they are being used “successfully” around the country. What does his vision of “success” look like?
Is it a firefighting operation using the nationally recognized incident management system with a complete complement of specific fire equipment operated by certified firefighters and certified company officers, who safely engage the interior of a structure fire with enough personnel to abide by OSHA’s hazardous atmosphere laws (when entering smoke-filled environments, for every two firefighters inside there must be a two-firefighter backup team in place for emergencies)?
Or is it a truck full of part-timers following a fire engine driven by another part-timer, on their way to put out a smoldering house foundation. POC programs are great ways to help apprentice firefighters get experience but the scope of any POC program should be limited in size as to avoid turning the community of East County into a perpetual training ground for rookie firefighters and folks who use firefighting as a hobby.
He also states that the underfunded pension program is too costly. Do we know what percentage of operational money has been allocated to pensions, specifically? It’s in the single digits! But his statement leads us to think that the firefighter’s retirement is bankrupting the district.
Let us remember that firefighters not only pay for retirement with 13 to 20 percent out of their base pay but also physically by accepting long-term health issues many acquire over their career. Let’s have an honest discussion about whether you feel they have earned this benefit and we as a community should support them or they simply are not entitled to it. Please be specific.
Further clouding the issues, he relies on citing the City Gate report that supports contracting with CalFire. This begs the question: Who is City Gate? Is it the fire and emergency services consulting service run by a former state employee who worked out of Cal Fire’s Sacramento Office? Does City Gate employ multiple contractors from CalFire to provide services to their firm? Is this report truly unbiased?
This is never stated by Measure S opponents. Instead, most attack ECCFPD firefighters over some union resistance. What specifically was the union upset about in the rules that made it resist CalFire? It might have something to do with increasing their hours from 56 to 72 a week and being told that all future promotional opportunities may require relocation of their families to either end of California. Maybe they have ownership in the community and want to stay here and serve without extending already long hours.
Obamacare is nothing like Measure S because its fundamental difference is that money from Measure S will go directly to our firefighters who protect us and our community. It will not feed the federal general fund, which is cut up and squandered on pet projects, rewarding the “lobbyist of the week.”
Our local emergency response system is one of the last good investments of tax dollars available. You call, they come, every time. I hope our community votes to maintain our vital services. I would rather our firefighters get the money over the insurance companies, who will raise our rates if Measure S is defeated.