PITTSBURG (KCBS) – A recent 500 acre grass fire in Pittsburg possibly sparked by illegal fireworks showed how critically understaffed the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District has become, Chief Darryl Louder said Tuesday.

“Our system is stressed. It’s maxed out. It’s unsafe for the community and it’s unsafe for our personnel,” he said, presenting a plan to change staffing to the County Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors approved Louder’s proposal to use two-person units on medical calls in high service areas during peak times, so that more firefighters can be available for fires and other emergencies during fire season.

The two-person units “would only respond to emergency medical calls,” Louder said.

Sending pairs of firefighters to medical calls could backfire and stretch the resources of the district even further, warned veteran firefighter Leslie Grundler, by also leaving the EMS units without enough manpower to respond appropriately to their calls.

“Being from a fire department before that ran two-person companies, you still don’t have the resources to do what you need to do. We need our engines back in service,” she said.

“I don’t really see this as a viable solution for us, because we’re just patching holes again.”

The board gave the green light to Chief Louder’s proposal over Grundler’s objection. It also voted to build a new fire station that will replace two stations in West Lafayette and East Orinda.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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