• A Sixty-Day Report Card: Fire department consolidation

    Two months ago, Pacific Grove went into a contract with the City of Monterey to provide fire protection for Pacific Grove. We asked Monterey Fire Chief Sam Mazza how that consolidation was going, and how Monterey’s fiscal problems could potentially affect Pacific Grove’s fire protection service.

    Chief Mazza reassures the Pacific Grove community that there will be no reduction in fire protection due to Monterey’s budget problems. “As your contract fire chief, I’m dedicated to providing the very same level of service you had before the consolidation, with no separation. We’re all one community.”

    The City of Monterey, he said, is looking for all labor groups and employee relations groups to help them meet their deficit, but the potential of furlough, which other types of employees are facing, is not an option for the fire service. “We can’t furlough fire fighters without hiring others to take their places [in order to maintain service levels] so there would be no savings there at all,” he said. “There will always be three firefighters on that Pacific Grove engine, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We have a contractual obligation to provide a certain level of service,” he said.

    Furthermore, any savings that might be realized by alternatives for furlough days would be passed on to Pacific Grove.

    Although a one-time reduction in pay is one idea, Mazza is not suggesting that firefighters do that. Negotiations with the unions continue.

    As for the 60-day report card, Chief Mazza says the consolidation is going “exceptionally well.” Officials have been compiling monthly reports on response times for the fire department, and he notes that, from the time the consolidation was implemented through the end of January 2009, a six-week period, there were 152 responses by the Pacific Grove station. With a goal of five minutes or less 90 percent of the time, the fire department actually met the standard 91 percent of the time.

    “So we have maintained the standard, and I have not heard anyone complain,” said Mazza, noting that cross training is continuing and the firefighters are working well together.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on February 27, 2009

    Topics: Current Edition, Front PG News, Features

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