Date: June 3, 2003
For Immediate Release
& Answers Regarding
Staffing Fire Station #8 Without Overtime
Below are some questions that have been raised during the budget
discussions relating to the fire department's proposal to staff
fire station 8 without the use of overtime during the 4-month fire
1. How much will be saved by this plan?
The plan should yield savings of approximately $180,000 in
2. Will any Fire Stations be left unstaffed as a result of the
Fire Department budget proposal?
No. No fire station will be left unstaffed.
3. Will Fire Station 8 in Foothills Park be opened this year?
Yes. There will no change from previous years. It will be
open for approximately 120 days, the duration of the fire season.
Station 8 will be staffed for 12 hours each day (8am to 8pm) from
July 1, 2003 through November 1, 2003 (depending on weather).
4. Will Fire Station 8 be staffed with fewer firefighters this
No. It will be staffed with the same number of personnel (3)
as it has been for the past several years. This number has actually
increased from 2 several years ago when Los Altos Hills County
Fire Protection District starting funding a third person.
5. As a result of the Fire Department's budget proposal, will fewer
firefighters respond to any fires in Palo Alto?
No. There will be no reduction in the number of personnel
dispatched to any fire in Palo Alto, including the foothills.
Fifteen personnel will be dispatched on a first alarm assignment
and 18 personnel will be sent when any smoke is showing. This
is more than most surrounding jurisdictions send. In addition
to the Palo Alto response, Santa Clara County Fire Department
will continue to send personnel from their El Monte fire station
at Foothill College to fires in the Palo Alto Hills, as does Woodside
Fire Protection District and the California Department of Forestry.
6. What is the effect on staffing from the Fire Department's budget
In previous years, 3 additional firefighters were paid overtime
to staff fire Station 8 for 12 hours each day. Under the current
proposal, 3 firefighters will be moved from Fire Station 2, on
Hanover, to staff fire Station 8 for 12 hours. Station 2 will
continue to be staffed with 5 personnel during the daytime and
with 8 personnel at night. The majority of our fire stations are
staffed with only 3 personnel on a single fire engine.
7. Will minimum staffing for Palo Alto be effected as a result
of the Fire Department's budget proposal?
No. Minimum staffing for Palo Alto will remain as specified
at 29 fire-fighting personnel plus 1 battalion chief and 31 plus
1battalion chief when Station 8 is open. This will continue to
be a higher staffing level than any surrounding jurisdiction,
including Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills,
8. What is the effect of the change at Fire Station 2 for those
12 hours on the types of calls they can respond to?
Firefighters will respond on the engine or the rescue unit
depending on the type of call. As with many fire or paramedic
calls in Palo Alto, additional engines will respond from adjoining
districts (or auto/mutual aid areas) to complete a full response
complement, as necessary.
9. If the rescue is not available, how will air bottles be re-supplied?
Each fire engine carries one full air bottle with each self-contained
breathing apparatus (SCBA) plus one spare bottle for each person
assigned to the unit. Air bottles are rated at 45 minutes of air.
Depending on how hard the firefighters are working, stress levels,
as well as breathing capacities, bottles actually last from 20-30
minutes each. Firefighters go through a rehabilitation period
after working for long periods. Fires requiring 3 air bottles
per firefighter are very rare. However, in such cases, command
staff will have adequate time to get the rescue unit or mutual
aid to the scene of very large fires.
10. Why are you recommending reductions to the Fire Department
budget when residents have indicated that they consider it a critical
Fire protection is indeed a critical service. With the City's
revenue shortfall at $10 million, however, each department looked
at ways to deliver existing service more economically.
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