Fresno, Calif. - City leaders in Fresno voted Thursday night to terminate the city's agreement to provide fire service for the North Central Fire Protection District bringing the partnership to an end after more than a decade.
In December the City of Fresno will end their firefighting service for the 250-square-mile area of rural Fresno County west of the city that includes Kerman, Biola, and areas near Kearney Park.
This was strictly an economic decision for Fresno city leaders. The city manager says Fresno stood to lose millions of dollars if they continued with this agreement to provide fire service to areas outside the city.
"There's a lot of vehicle accidents out there, a lot of two lane roads, pretty dark. We see a lot of medical emergencies, some rescues and we do get a handful of fires out there too," Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis said when asked about what kinds of calls her firefighters deal with in the North Central Fire Protection District.
Ten years ago a partnership with Fresno Fire was crucial for communities like kerman that make up the North Central Fire Protection District.
"We regionalized service. We allowed to close some stations so that we could provide them service with the existing stations," said Chief Donis.
But now the City of Fresno says it is losing one million dollars a year maintaining the service. Thursday Fresno's city council voted to terminate the contract.
"If they want professional Fresno City firefighters they are going to have to pay for it," said Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld.
Only Luis Chavez voted against the resolution.
"I think we should've kept talking with our partners and our surrounding communities and I don't think this is the right way to approach that conversation," said Fresno City Councilman Luis Chavez.
The move eventually frees up more than 40 Fresno Firefighters to be reassigned in the city.
"It comes down to, well, you can continue to lose well over $1M a year or you can spend $1M and a year and increase the level of service we provide to our residents," said Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd.
But the firefighters fate will come down to the city's budget.
If we decide to do something like add a company, turn those firefighters into a new company which increases daily staffing that's about a $1.8 Million expense at a time when we are also looking at adding police officers," said Rudd.
The vote gives a nine month notice. Fresno Fire will continue to service the North Central Fire Protection District calls until December. Fire Chief Donis told me that she hopes the city and the fire district can reach a new agreement in that time.