Members of the Oakdale City Council approved the Oakdale City Fire Department Fire Plan on Monday evening, Dec. 7 but the message was clear: planning is good but there’s no money to implement anything.
Fire Chief Michael Botto and Fire Capt. Tony Miranda came to the council with an abbreviated Power Point presentation detailing the 20 findings and 15 recommendations put together as part of the Fire Master Plan Study developed in February and completed Nov. 30 but the reception from council seemed lukewarm as many of the proposed implementations would require additional resources that the city doesn’t currently have.
Mayor Farrell Jackson was supportive of the Master Plan as it helped outline future needs and goals but simply put, the weak economic projections aren’t conducive to heaping additional financial weight on the city’s shoulders.
“A lot of this stuff depends on funding,” Jackson warned.
Council member Tom Dunlop agreed, saying, “I hesitate to do much planning before we know what’s coming in the future.”
Some of the findings included:
• Should the City desire to re-locate and re-build Station No. 1, any of the three test sites will work. There are two sites off of East “G” Street and one site east of the rodeo grounds currently under consideration.
• There will be little or no savings from consolidating daily line fire services in the region.
• There will be little or no savings from consolidating or merging headquarters units with one or more of the neighboring fire agencies due to the existing inadequate staff levels, but there would be an improvement in service levels.
• Fire prevention is understaffed and additional staffing will be required to implement more usual and customary inspection and public education programs.
• The public education program scope is suffering from lack of funding for position hours and material for handouts, media messages, etc.
• Many smaller fire agencies in California have chosen to contract with CAL FIRE to provide urban and suburban fire services because in selected circumstances they bring a higher service level, significant depth in headquarters and training and a lower cost.
Botto made note that while many fire services have opted to contract with CAL FIRE, Oakdale City Fire has not fully investigated the possibility as it pertains to the city but felt prudent to mention it to council.
“We’re not asking to contract with CAL FIRE,” Botto said. “We’re just investigating at this time.”
Some of the study recommendations included:
• Phase in daily staffing increases – as funding allows, which includes going after grant opportunities to achieve this goal, such as the SAFER grant.
• Restoring half-time executive secretary to full-time status.
• Replacement of the 1979 truck
Additionally, the study proposed the viability of a public safety sales tax, which could potentially raise $400,000 to $800,000 but Jackson stated he was unsure if the citizens are ready to support such a measure.