After the Oakdale City Council authorized replacement of $37,000 worth of outdated critical fire equipment on Monday, Aug. 17, the council also agreed to pay $34,094 as its part of increased administrative and overhead costs with the addition of three full-time firefighters. The positions were added to the line staff of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District as a result of a recently obtained federal grant.
The $477,123 grant, known as SAFER or Supporting the Acceptance of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, was awarded to the district on July 24 and will cover all the salary and benefits costs of three funded firefighter positions for a period of two years.
At the end of the first two years of the grant, the district, on behalf of the city, will have the opportunity to apply for an additional two years of funding. At the end of the grant period the district and city will evaluate the possibility of retaining the positions based on the city’s financial condition at that time.
Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Wise, speaking for Fire Chief Randall Bradley, pointed out that Congressman Jeff Denham’s office was instrumental in assisting the department with obtaining the federal grant. A Denham staffer who was also present at the meeting said Congressman Denham wrote letters of support for the grant to be awarded to the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District.
The amount is well worth it to Oakdale citizens because, according to Wise, the three new firefighters would be stationed at Oakdale’s G Street station.
Wise added that because the new firefighters would take very little vacation and sick leave during their first year there is no estimated associated overtime created with the new positions. There is no obligation to retain the firefighter positions after the grant has expired.
Wise told the council that with the increase of personnel from 63 to 66, the “overhead costs model” has changed and needed to be increased. The overhead cost allocation model is based on each agency paying their pro-rata share of the overhead cost based on each agency’s percentage of staffed positions.
That cost would be split evenly between the district, the city, and the Oakdale Rural Fire District, which also contracts with Stanislaus Consolidated and is serviced by the G Street station.
“This shows the value of the contract we have with Stanislaus Consolidated,” said Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer. “We definitely want to go in the direction with adding personnel to the fire department.”
Councilman Tom Dunlop also pointed out that having partnerships, such as the one with Stanislaus Consolidated, results in cost savings than if the city were to take on the service on their own.
According to city officials, Measure Y funds would pay for the costs and equipment.
After the presentation Wise told The Leader he was very happy with the grant and the council’s actions because it brought the city’s fire staffing back to the level it was at when he started as a firefighter in Oakdale.
“This raises our on-duty staffing to five in the city (split between the two stations),” Wise said. “Now if we have a fire situation where we need to perform a rescue, we can immediately make that attack.”