Cal Fire planning another round of layoffs

August 20, 2011

San Luis Obispo County Cal Fire officials are planning another round of layoffs after learning the state is slashing an additional $15.85 million from the wildland fire budget.

“We are going to make the best choices when we make these cuts so we can preserve our initial attack abilities, but it is going to be a cut in firefighters,” said Robert Lewin, Cal Fire San Luis Obispo County unit fire chief. “The cuts will occur as we move into fall season.”

Last fall, cuts of $54 million forced Cal Fire to lower engine crews from four to three, layoff 730 seasonal firefighters and park 10 fire trucks.

On Monday, Cal Fire officials will meet to discuss how to slash the additional $15.85 million out of a 2011-2012 fire protection budget of $524.8 million.

Cal Fire defends 1.4 million acres and approximately 25,000 homes in rural San Luis Obispo County. In addition, Pismo Beach, Avila Beach and Los Osos contract with Cal Fire for emergency services.

Cal Fire employs approximately 600 people in San Luis Obispo County.

Coincidentally, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law on July 7 that requires people with homes in rural areas serviced by Cal Fire to pay an annual fee of $150 per dwelling.  The fee is slated to raise $50 million this fiscal year and up to $200 million in subsequent years.

However, none of the money can be used to pay fire fighters because the law requires all money collected from the fee to go solely toward fire prevention.

“We have to figure how the cuts will impact on fire protection,” Lewin said.

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Cal fire could save money on large fires by utilizing in county contract hire equipment more than they do, for instance when a fire breaks out any place in SLO county, contract equipment is called for an initial attack say 3 water trucks and 5 dozers, when this particular fire goes huge the dispatch is now handed to northern or southern Ca dispatch offices, they start the call out for planned need equipment, this planned need equipment comes from the northern Ca border to San Diego, while our in county equipment is left home, sometimes just an hour or two away from an incident instead of 8 or 9 hours travel, and when the out of county equipment arrives they can’t work that day as they have already put a shift in just getting here.

Also with the disabilities act we now give preference to disabled vets,women owned business, and hub zone qualified companys, I thought we were in the business to put out fires, save life and property not a welfare organization for minorities.

I see your point to an extent. Although the tax payers are already paying for the state owned and staffed apparatus for fires anywhere in california. And if a wildland fire is burning with the right conditions present it will be days if not weeks to stop it. Aircraft are the most effective tool with an initial attack.

It’s been a quiet year so far, they should have that kind of money lying around….

Jerry Brown is of the wrong political persuasion for me, but I concur with some of the things he’s done.

Like charging rural homeowners an assessment for Cal Fire. It’s their homes that receive the lion’s share of Cal Fire’s “service,” so it is logical that they should underwrite more of the expense.

It’s hard to fault a govt “pay as you go” plan.

OTOH, if the rural homeowners become the new funding masters of Cal Fire, they have every right to expect an increased role in deciding how the department operates. Maybe the rural folk will tolerate increased response times in less-shiny trucks in exchange for paying less.

This additional $150 is dual taxation. Very simply put if you live on the dividing line between a incorporated city and an unincorporated city you pay the SAME amount of property tax rate equally. Although if you are on the wrong side of the line, unincorporated area, you will be taxed the additional $150. The bottom line is that because of mutual aid the response for an emergency will come from the incorporated city.

Oh well just another rip off.

Things will not get better until they stop cutting people and start cutting wages and benefits. It is THAT simple.

That’s County budget, not State….different funds.

Whats the difference when they both claim to be broke?

The State funds seasonal firefighter employment. I don’t like it either. But it is still different funds. if you have a problem with the new station then you should talk to your local assemblyman. If you have a problem with firefighter’s losing their jobs then talk to Brown.

The difference being one comes from my left pocket and one from my right? To rallyraid, and me, it looks like the same funds: MINE.

Slash $15 million in actual man power while building a new fire station in Creston that probably cost us $15 million. Is Peter robbing Paul??

Well, the building is (hopefully) a one-time expense of $15 mil. The budget recovery of $15 mil should assume to be for each year in the foreseeable future. Of course, getting a bureaucracy to stick to any kind of budget is difficult, especially from one year/council to the next.

But yeah, all the monies are from the same source: confiscation of private wealth either through taxation, liens, fees or other imposed limitations. I am glad that more people are beginning to realize that government does not create wealth, only takes it.

It’s like saying “tax the rich” – you think they’ll just say, “Oh well, guess I’ll pay more…” or raise the prices of the various goods and services they control? I know which one I would do, and I’m not rich.

Why does a new fire station cost 15 million dollars? One reason prevailing wages! Workers are paid 2-4 times normal salary for the project. Makes absolutely no sense to me.