By John Ramos

UNION CITY (KPIX) – Union City closed one of its fire stations Wednesday because officials say it doesn’t get enough calls for service, but the decision has raised an alarm with the firefighter’s union.

In 2001, the developer of a neighborhood at the southern end of Union City donated land to build Fire Station 30, one of four firehouses in the city.

Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci supported the decision back then, but says a recent study revealed that the station only gets an average of 1.7 calls in every 24-hour period.

“When we weighed the calls for service compared with other parts of town that DO have higher calls for service, we said for the dollars it’s costing us, there needs to be a better way to do this,” said Dutra-Vernaci.

So, Wednesday morning the station closed at 8 a.m. which prompted a warning from firefighter’s union president Sean Burrows.

“The citizens of Union City are at significantly more risk,” warned Burrows.

Nine firefighters work out of the station, and Tuesday they were packing up to leave. Burrows admits there aren’t a lot of calls coming from the area of Station 30, but says it doesn’t just serve the residents living around it.

“If the other three fire companies are tied up on emergencies,” he said, “that station is there to provide backup, if needed, for all the citizens of Union City.”

William Narciso lives two blocks from Station 30 and says he is nervous to hear that it could take responders an extra 5 minutes or more to get to his house.

“Especially if it’s about a heart attack or something,” he said, “then it’s a lifesaving act…if you’re here earlier, the better the survival rate.”

But the mayor says what is the “correct” number of firefighters is a matter of opinion and the city has to balance the other needs of the community in its decisions.

“Providing city services means FULL service: a police department, a fire department, a parks and recreation department,” She said. “We would all like to live up to the best practices but we know that financially that’s not feasible.”

The mayor says they are looking for a more economical model, perhaps placing ambulance crews at Station 30, which cost a lot less than firefighters.

The firefighters themselves won’t be laid off. They’ll be absorbed back into Alameda County Fire. They just won’t be working at Station 30 anymore.

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