For years MOFD and ConFire have discussed combining the operations of two of their least utilized stations into a single station and splitting the reduced cost. This would save the two districts combined two to three million dollars per year for as long as the agreement is maintained. Seeing as the two stations in question, Station 16 in West Lafayette and Station 43 in East Orinda, are so close together, both districts claimed that combining the two would cause minimal negative impact on the population served. Now, with the economy picking up, both districts have decided that saving money is no longer a priority. Despite the fact that MOFD has $60 million in debt and ConFire many times that amount, each believes it can now afford to walk away from its share of over $200 million dollars in eventual operational savings and each will rebuild their two respective stations for millions of dollars of capital expenditures and then pay to staff them with two crews of firefighters instead of one.
In a recent news article the ConFire Chief complained that the district did not have enough firefighters. He did not say this was becuase no one wanted to be a firefighter. The reason is that the district does not have enough money to hire more firefighters and pay down its debts. So how can ConFire get more money? Save where it can. Share a station with MOFD as opposed to operating an underutilzed station by itself.
What are the reasons the two Districts claim they can no longer share a station and save money according to the article? ConFire: “The differences in the two organizations would have been problematic.” MOFD: “If the county came back next month and said, “Yeah, let's go on with 46”, it would just be more evidence that they are an unreliable partner.” The firefighters in these two districts work together on emergencies on almost a daily basis; sometimes under great stress. But the district management cannot figure out how to save $2-3 million per year in operating costs and several million in construction costs because they don’t trust each other? Really?
A new station built under the high construction standards required for essential buildings like fire stations will have a useful life of 75 to 100 years. Inflating the minimum $2 million per year in operating expenses at 2.5% inflation results in $200 million in expenses over 50 years. and then discounting this back at 5% produces a discounted present value of $60 million. MOFD’s half of that would pay off half of all its debts. And yet it walks away from the opportunity because it considers ConFire “unreliable”. There are millions of dollars of “grossly inadequate” fire hydrants in Orinda that MOFD could repair if it had the resources. There are acres of over-vegetated terrain which turn much of North Orinda into a “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone” but MOFD has no funds to pay for a fuel load reduction program. 40 percent of Orinda and 25 percent of Moraga’s emergencies are responded to in over MOFD’s six minute response time benchmark because the funds are not available to build and staff medical first responder satellite stations. There are many ways to better serve the community but they will have to wait because MOFD and ConFire cannot figure out how to cooperate to save money.