In Response to Failure of Measure R, Arcata Fire District Will Begin Temporary Rotating Closure of Stations

Press release for Arcata Fire:

The Board of Directors for the Arcata Fire District announces that it will begin the temporary closure of one of its three stations beginning on April 1, 2020 at 8 am.

The station brownouts will last for eight days and will rotate through each station, beginning with the Mad River Station. District finances will no longer allow for the daily expenditure of overtime that is required to keep all three stations simultaneously open.

Measure R, which narrowly failed to receive the required two-thirds voter approval from the community at the March presidential primary election, was an attempt to help maintain the funding for both staffing and the third station. “Unfortunately, drastic measures, such as lay-off and demotions, are now needed to balance the District budget,” Board President, Nicole Johnson reported.

Staff reductions began with allowing employee vacancies, from retirement and firefighter departures, to remain unstaffed. A temporary firefighter position, that was filling a vacancy due to long-term medical leave, was also cut and three more layoff notices were issued earlier today. Along with the layoff notices, other full-time employees were given 90-day notice of demotions to a lower classification.

Maintaining services, with the declining staff, station closures, and large increases in expenses, is tricky”, states Fire Chief Justin McDonald. “Operationally, things are changing. Our responses may be delayed, fewer employees and engines will go to what used to be multi-engine responses and we are scrambling to seek new dispatch options as our annual dispatch fees were increased nearly 200% with our 20/21 fiscal year budget.”

The Arcata Fire District Finance Committee and staff, continue to work together on the District budget to seek strategies for funding that will meet the District’s mission and responsibility to the community it serves. “We are forced to move forward with reduced services as a result of current financial situation and provide the best service possible with limited staffing.”

Finally, the District would like the public to be aware of the dates for the station brownouts. The stations will be dark, unstaffed and clearly marked when they are closed. The following are the dates and locations for the brownouts for the remainder of this fiscal year:

April 1-8 Mad River Station, 3235 Janes Road, Arcata

April 9-16 Arcata Downtown Station, 631 9th Street, Arcata

April 17-24 McKinleyville Station, 2149 Central Ave, McKinleyville

April 25-May 2 Mad River Station, 3235 Janes Road, Arcata

May 3-10 Arcata Downtown Station, 631 9th Street, Arcata

May11-18 McKinleyville Station, 2149 Central Ave, McKinleyville

May 19-26 Mad River Station, 3235 Janes Road, Arcata

May 27-June 3 Arcata Downtown Station, 631 9th Street, Arcata

June 4-11 McKinleyville Station, 2149 Central Ave, McKinleyville

June 12-19 Mad River Station, 3235 Janes Road, Arcata

June 20-27 Arcata Downtown Station, 631 9th Street, Arcata

June 28-July 5 McKinleyville Station, 2149 Central Ave, McKinleyville

July 6-14 Mad River Station, 3235 Janes Road, Arcata

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13 comments

  • That’s an odd move with all this emergency money up for grabs.

  • triniboldticino

    How about reporting on the pay levels of the Administration? Was it the APD or AFD I remember reading about what the Chief was paid? I remember thinking “WOW, that’s a LOT for civil service in a town the size of Arcata – that and the benefits and retirement.” Used to be civil service meant your standard of living would be maintained for the rest of your life. Now it’s a free-for-all.

  • Ernie Branscomb

    It might be time to form a volunteer fire department. Most rural fire departments are part, or all volunteer. A department can end up with some great equipment with the money saved.

    I’m not saying that anything is being mismanaged, but we are heading into some pretty serious economic woes. Money and funding can no longer be the solution to our problems. Meazure Z funding is dependant upon sales tax which will also be reduced due to business shutdowns. It’s time to face some new realities.

  • Rotating stations seems to be an unnecessary complication. There should be one best option for maintaining service if that was the goal. Pick the places centrally located to make response time as short as possible. This feels like spreading the pain to make sure everyone notices.

    • bingo. someone should loose their job for this. when you have to spread thin, normally, you pick the two stations that are farthest from each other and close down the one in the middle. this appears to be a threat to those on the end of the line.

  • In my 1911 I trust

    Wasn’t Measure S money or O or whatever they named it supposed to support not only the police force but fire and emergency services as well? Hasn’t about every bill that has to do with funding police, fire, and emergency services passed besides this one? I think an audit is necessary by a private company, not an audit by another gov’t agency.

  • Once again Ernie hits the nail on the head. Public agencies, especially LEO’s and Fire Districts come to count on the Measure Z monies. They are no different than you or I, the more we make the more we spend.

    According to Transparent California in 2017 AFD had about 28 employees, two Chiefs (one apparently was only getting some form of benefits of $13,000+/-), 3 Battalion Chiefs and 10 Captains. Chief McDonald reportedly made $195,962 in salary and benefits. Approximately $360,700.00 was paid in overtime in 2017. The total salary and benefit costs were $2,961,911.00 in 2017.

    I have to say it does seem odd to have 10 Captains based on the number of stations and the number of firefighters. Than again I have no idea if that is typical. There must be a good reason.

  • You vill pay or veee vill let your house burn to zeee ground. Zee great leader has spoken.

  • I laugh every time I drive over that new culvert by my house that was installed using Measure Z funds. Fool us 1000 times, shame on us, fool us a thousand and one times, shame on you.

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