A decision made this past week, which took effect on Monday, Oct. 19, has resulted in the closure of the Valley Home Fire Station.
According to information released by the Oakdale Fire Protection District, “Effective immediately the Oakdale Fire Protection District will no longer rotate staffing between Knights Ferry and Valley Home Fire Stations, leaving one of the two fire stations unstaffed at any given time. To enhance deployment efficiency and effectiveness, with existing limited staffing, the district will transition to full-time staffing of Knights Ferry Fire Station and brown-out Valley Home Fire Station.”
Officials added that, although the changes were adopted following comprehensive review by subject matter experts, they will receive close monitoring and ongoing assessment.
Through an existing reciprocal resource sharing agreement between Oakdale Fire Protection District and the City of Oakdale, wherein the fire district provides proportional funding to the city, the Oakdale City Fire Department will respond to service calls within the Oakdale Fire Protection District, primarily Valley Home and East Oakdale, when necessary. Moreover, response by the city into the district may occur at any time, when it’s deemed an available City of Oakdale engine is closer than the district engine, in accordance with “Boundary Drop” and “Mutual/Automatic Aid” agreements. The agreements were established under the comprehensive Fire and Emergency Medical Services System that both the City of Oakdale and Oakdale Fire Protection District joined through their joint service contract with the City of Modesto.
Recent evaluation of service demands and deployment models resulted in this deployment and service model change, Board President Gary Hampton and Fire Chief Alan Ernst noted in the press release. Over the past five months the Oakdale Fire Protection District has enacted a comprehensive evaluation of all facets of district operations, seeking to achieve sustainable operational practices and services into the future.
Voters turned down a previously floated ‘fire tax’ – and that had a major impact on the board’s decision.
The comprehensive review resulted from the May 2020 Special Election, when the majority of district residents casting ballots voted “No” on the option of repealing and replacing the 15-year old special tax that had not increased since adoption in 2006. Repealing and replacing the special tax with an increased amount, enabling the Fire District to recover service levels and standards of 2006, resulted through feedback from district residents attending several months of workshops in late 2019.
Following its defeat by the district-wide special election, the Oakdale Fire Protection District Board of Directors acknowledged the outcome of the vote as a clear mandate to operate the district within existing revenues.
Residents are encouraged to attend monthly board meetings of the Oakdale Fire Protection District, which convene the second Thursday of each month, to more fully understand the fire and emergency services system. Meeting agendas are posted to the fire district website (www.oakdalefireprotectiondistrict.com) the Monday preceding the Thursday meeting.