Five City Fire Authority chief announces retirement

August 22, 2023

Fire Chief Steve Lieberman


Amid financial shortfalls, Five Cities Fire Authority Chief Steve Lieberman announced plans to retire in December. The fire authority plans to begin recruitment for a new fire chief shortly, according to a press release

After Oceano announced plans to leave the fire authority, Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach city councils hired a consultant to review the agency and provide possible alternatives. The 2023 report concluded the authority was struggling to pay its bills and maintain it equipment while responding to multiple non-emergency calls.

Oceano, Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach formed the FCFA in 2010. By combining their fire departments, officials planned to improve service levels and cut costs. In 2010, the FCFA was to operate under an approximately $3.3 million yearly budget.

The fire authority board voted to hire Lieberman in 2014.

As costs skyrocketed and services dwindled, the Oceano Community Services District put fire tax measures on the 2020 and 2022 ballots. Both failed. Without Oceano, FCFA revenues will drop by $1.1 million.

Issues at the FCFA include a failure to properly maintain equipment, minimal policies and procedures, inconsistent staffing levels and financial issues, according to the study. Continuing with the fire authority will cost approximately $8 million to $9 million a year, or $3 million to $5 million for both Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach, according to the consultant.

The consultant provided Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach several options for moving forward, including contacting with Cal Fire, raising taxes, pulling money from their general funds or contracting with another fire department.

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Wow wonder how much they paid the”consultant” to come up with those brilliant ideas, aren’t those pretty much the only options?

Time to end this failed experiment, our leaders told us if created it would save us money, it never did. Its been a money pit from the begining and needs to be dissolved.

And what would you propose as a practical alternative solution if Five Cities Fire was disolved?