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Council Formalizes Fire Services Merger
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Members of the Oakdale City Council formally approved a contract at their Monday night meeting that will merge the headquarters of Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District, City of Oakdale Fire Department and Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District. The merged headquarters provides one fire chief from the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District to oversee all three agencies. The merge is expected to happen by June of this year.
“This is something that is happening all up and down the state. Agencies are realizing that they can not operate the way they always have,” said Dwane Milnes with CityGate Associates, the agency that drafted the contract.
Under the merged headquarters system, Oakdale would have an assistant chief locally. A fire advisory committee would be established to meet quarterly with the chief and assistant chiefs to make administrative decisions. The committee will also make decisions on the hiring or firing of fire chiefs, and set salary and benefits for the merged administration personnel. The City of Oakdale will pay their share of the cost for all shared personnel.
The contract only merges administration, and the City of Oakdale would still make decisions for the hiring, compensation and benefits of their non-administrative fire personnel. The city will also still be responsible for fire stations, equipment and other capital spending. The merge will also set standardized policies and procedures. A town hall meeting was held in January to address public concerns about the merger.
“We believe that we have created a good contract that will work for the City of Oakdale,” said fire chief Michael Botto.
Oakdale City Council appointed a new temporary fire chief for the Oakdale Fire Department. Rick Fields will serve as chief until the reorganized headquarters takes effect. Fields is an Oakdale native and has been working in fire services for 28 years.
In other council news, Oakdale City Council member Jason Howard unexpectedly announced his resignation effective on or before June 1. Howard took a job in Grass Valley and will be vacating his council seat. Council can choose to either appoint someone to serve out the remainder of Howard’s term, or they could call for an election to fill the seat. His council term is set to expire in 2014.