Editor: Has the demand for services from the wonderful men and women who work for and with East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) finally become greater than the ability of the residents of East Contra Costa County to support those much-needed services?
My family moved to the East County from Castro Valley in 1975. We, along with everyone who has lived here for any number of years, have witnessed once unimaginable changes and growth. There were asparagus fields across the street from my parents’ house on Discovery Bay Boulevard and a volunteer fire department operating at the now closed fire house down the street. My parents started the annual Discovery Bay Christmas Boat Parade with their house boat (the “Tulie Hilton”); saw the start of the Discovery Bay Yacht Club, where my dad was one of the first Commodores; and inaugurated the golf course at The Discovery Bay Golf Club, hitting the first golf ball with Mr. Hofmann. Eventually the Discovery Bay Safeway shopping center was completed, and the Discovery Bay population was growing so much that the US Post Office assigned Discovery Bay its own ZIP Code.
We have all seen a great many planned, attempted and completed additions of homes, businesses and roads where there had never been any: The Streets of Brentwood; the bypass; schools; myriads of upgrades; and additions all around East Contra Costa County.
All of this is to paint a picture of the extreme growth and development that has taken place (and continues to take place) since the original establishment of a fledgling ECCFPD, operating separate and distinct from the rest of Contra Costa County.
To use an analogy from physics. Since the 1970s, the “center of gravity” of the population of Contra Costa County has been shifting eastward. However, the “center of gravity” of the necessary and appropriate fire department resources has not been able to move east in concert with the obvious growth in the demand and need for those services.
In other words, where we live today is no longer the rural, low-population-density east end of Contra Costa County. Where we live today demands (yes, that’s the word I would use) the resources of a more robust emergency response system than we in East Contra Costa County apparently are able to provide by ourselves.
I would suggest that the time has come for the ECCFPD, and the people of East Contra Costa County, to research and consider the possibility and feasibility of merging ECCFPD into the larger Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.
One could reasonably expect that the synergistic combining of personnel, fiscal, material and administrative resources would result in the necessary and appropriate emergency response services needed and required here in the east end of Contra Costa County, if not in other parts of the county.
Recognizing that many pros and cons can be brought to bear on such a discussion, I believe, and strongly suggest, that there be a robust investigation into and open consideration of the merging of ECCFPD with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.