Fire boards vote to reject firefighters’ petitions

Breaking news

Posted by on Tue, March 6, 2007

The Point Montara Fire Protection District, in a closed meeting today, voted to reject the referendum petitions from the fire fighters on the grounds the referendum did not meet the technical requirements of the state election code.  The Half Moon Bay Fire Protection District voted to reject the referendum petitions at its meeting on Friday.


Can anyone provide Coastsider with a copy of the petition?  I was never at the post office at the right time to be able to read it.

Thanks,

Kathryn

I was among three citizens that attended the PMFPD Special Meeting Tuesday evening.  There were no Fire Fighters in attendance.  I don’t know the specifics of the second petition circulated by IAFF local 2400.  But, it appears the second sets of referenda were more rhetorical than legally drafted to challenge the actions of the Boards on contracting with CalFire(CDF).

The more pressing issue for Chief Cole and the Board at the meeting was an urgent agenda item placed on the Tuesday PMFPD Open Session Agenda by a majority of the PMFPD Board.  The item was Staffing Update.  Chief Cole was somewhat limited in the specific details he could provide by California employee privacy laws and Federal HIPA regulations.  A combination of factors is causing a Linestaff shortage.  Some Linestaff are going out on disability, some are going to other Fire Departments and some are doing a combination of the two.

Chief Cole has declared a staffing emergency and went through various options with the Board and public.  It’s important to note the service level may degrade somewhat temporarily, but all three engines will be staffed continuously.  The interesting point is the strife in HMBFPD and the issue of the Coastside contracting with CalFire is an issue at the San Mateo County level, CalFire Region Level and within the IAFF International.  The issue is which agency steps up to the plate short term to provide the resources, fast track acreditization of Certified Paramedics from other counties to work in San Mateo County or as a last resort whether State OES or Cal Fire Engine companies get dispatched to the Coastside with the State Fire Marshal certifying them to operate in the San Mateo County.  This issue may prove more interesting to Coastsider readers than the local firehouse shenanigans.

It’s important to note that the HMBFPD Board has bent over backwards to negotiate a transitional MOU with Local 2400.  Local 2400 representative Ed Hawkins reported on another Coastsider article back in October that he was off to negotiate with the HMBFPD Board. Negotiating the transition has been going on for months.  CalFire is scheduled to transition around April first, once State level approvals are complete.

The majorities of the PMFPD and HMBFPD Boards are working together effectively as I have not seen them in years.  Chief Cole is doing a valiant job of maintaining our service, setting the right priorities and holding the service together, until CalFire starts up.  They have all performed very well and deserve our support.

Vince Williams
Moss Beach

It is very important to understand the level of stress
the firefighters are under. They are doing their job
very well and at a high level while at the same time
Chief Fererra and Paul Cole have worked out a deal to
eliminate the Half Moon Bay fire District and replace
it with a state run agency administered by Paul Cole.
It is equally important that the community understand
that all of the firefighters efforts to have a honest,
ethical and incorruptible administrative staff have
failed. This failure is largely due to the current and
past boards refusal to deal with the evidence
presented to them by numerous investigations and
lawsuits into the management teams dishonorable
conduct. There has always been a simple fix to HMBFPD
problems, and that is deal with the Problems not the
Symptoms. Open up Rene Maynes investigation report,
look at the results of the strategic planning
committees targeted problems, look at all the
depositions and evidence from the half dozen lawsuits
against he district, and you will find plenty or
sources for the symptoms plaguing the fire district.
Stop ignoring “the big white elephant standing in the
room” to qote Rene Mayne!  The public needs to
understand that the working conditions at HMBFPD are
repressive, vindictive and hostile, and this is
largely due to Pual Cole. Ever since he was promised a
high level position with CDF if he helped make the
merger happen, he appears to be on a mission to
destroy the moral of the firefighters and force them
out. The comment that “no one will loose their jobs”
is irrelevant because none of the HMB firefighter want
to work for CDF and that is why 90% of them are
currently test out, and many of those people have been
offered jobs with other agencies. Like the large exit
of two years ago, the fire district is about to face
another emergency staffing problem in the next couple
months when 11 more HMB firefighters are going to
leave due to the fire board and Paul Cole. The sad
thing about all of this is that the firefighters
simply want a honest, and properly run fire district.
Because of this, they have been punished, harassed,
publicly criticized and, forced out by unscrupulous
individuals from out of town. The public needs to
realized that those individuals who have come in and
destroyed over a hundred years of tradition, and their
communities fire district have only one purpose and
that is to further their own personal careers and self
interests on the backs of the HMB firefighters and at
the expense of the HMB community members and thier
local fire department. It is atrocious!
I am sure the self proclaimed experts we keep hearing from on this subject will attack my comments, but I don’t care because the truth is the truth and if they really did care about thier community they would check out the facts for once and stop harassing the poeple trying to do the right thing.

Brent H Smith

Brent Smith wrote:
“...Chief Fererra and Paul Cole have worked out a deal to eliminate the Half Moon Bay fire District and replace it with a state run agency administered by Paul Cole.”

Opinion, not fact. CalFire(CDF) responded to the PMFPD and HMBFPD Request For Proposal drafted by Interim Chief Hamilton last year.  After reviewing two proposals the PMFPD and HMBFPD Boards negotiated a contract with CalFire, which has the two Boards setting the level of service on an ongoing basis. The work that Chief Cole performed was under the direction of the HMBFPD and PMFPD Boards, during the proposal review and contract negotiation.

Brent Smith wrote:
“...all of the firefighters efforts to have a honest,  ethical and incorruptible administrative staff have failed. This failure is largely due to the current and past boards refusal to deal with the evidence presented to them by numerous investigations and lawsuits into the management teams dishonorable conduct.”


The HMBFPD and PMFPD have a primary mission of providing fire and emergency services to the Coastside.  How the employees feel about where they work is a secondary consideration.  But, that consideration has dominated the political discussion for years to the point that the service level has been impacted and the two Districts are in financial distress trying to maintain a level of service.  A contract with CalFire solves both of these problems, that directly effect the citizens of this community.

Brent Smith wrote:
“The public needs to realized that those individuals who have come in and destroyed over a hundred years of tradition, and their communities fire district have only one purpose and that is to further their own personal careers and self interests on the backs of the HMB firefighters and at the expense of the HMB community members and thier local fire department.”

The PMFPD and HMBFPD Boards have taken the sound advice of two Chiefs with decades of experience and the SMC Civil Grand Jury and acted to not have the 100 year mission fail on their watch.  It was a tough decision.  Chief Cole has taken on an awesome responsibility maintaining operations, until CalFire can take over.  This is not some conspiracy concocted to advance Chief Cole’s or Chief Ferreira’s careers.  The Linestaff have to understand that the citizens of this community are speaking to them through their elected representatives.  The citizens are tired of having whoever assumes the Chief’s responsibilities vilified and disrespected for the gain of the Linestaff.  The Coastside citizens have paid the bills for the strife.  This is a public safety orginization, where a operational failure could cost a citizen their life or home. We need an organization that can provide a level of service, now, without new parcel taxes.  That organization is CalFire.  The HMBFPD Board has negotiated a transitional MOU with your IAFF Local 2400. Your interests have been represented by your Union.