HMB fire board responds to union critics

By on Wed, October 25, 2006

The board of the Half Moon Bay Fire Protection District has issued a press release designed to respond to criticisms of its outsourcing plan [PDF of release]—particularly from union members attempting to reverse the boards’ decision by petition or referendum.

The press release, originally drafted by board member Jerry Donovan, and reviewed by the board at its last meeting, says: "…the abundance of misinformation is alarming.  These documents are riddled with some erroneous, misleading, and confusing statements that, if the need ever arose, it would be impossible for any citizen to make an informed decision regarding fire protection services for the district."  The release is pretty disorganized and rambling, and you should read it for yourself, but in it the board emphasizes the following points:


  • The district already subcontracts services for outside training, custodial, legal, landscaping and accounting. Furthermore the board notes that it contracts out its paramedic ambulance transport to American Medical Response, saying "Medical aid responses account for approximately 75-80 percent of the call volume in the fire service."


  • Subcontracting would not result in the loss of control, because the contractor would be under the control of the board.


  • The union’s demand that any contractor be a "municipal fire department" ignores the fact that neither the HMBFPD or its successor would be a municipal fire department under a city’s control.


  • The union’s insistence that the Half Moon Bay Fire Protection District be preserved is confusing in light of the pending consolidation: " This Board cannot determine, nor can any citizen determine from the referendum as written, what the union is trying to accomplish."

The board insists that "outcry against a service…has little to do with service levels to the district and everything to do with wages and working hours. The salaries earned by many firefighters are staggering, with nearly half the firefighters earning $139,000.00 or more, with some earning as much as $180,000.00-190,000.00 in 2005 - arguably making our fighters some of the highest paid blue collar workers anywhere."

The release concludes by reiterating that there will be no layoffs and no of reduction salaries, the department’s volunteer program will be kept, and retirees will continue to receive the same retirement benefits.