Calfire Will Take Over San Miguel Firefighters Under Deal to Save District

The San Miguel Fire District and its board of directors will remain intact, and the district will continue to own all of its assets.

The San Miguel Fire Protection District made the following announcement on Tuesday, Sept. 25:

The San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District’s Board of Directors voted Tuesday night to approve a Cooperative Service Agreement with CAL FIRE. The Board voted unanimously to approve the 5 1/2-year agreement.

“This Cooperative Agreement allows the District to proceed with a balanced budget, maintain the current level of service for our residents and provide for the long-term viability of the District," Board president Chris Winter said. “It is important for residents to know the transition of firefighters from San Miguel to CAL FIRE will be as seamless as possible. As the agreement gets underway the District will continue to provide the same high level of service to the community.”

Both affected labor groups approved of the transition through the cooperative agreement.

“The Board of Directors and our firefighters have put public safety first in this historic decision," said San Miguel Fire Chief Gary Croucher. "The majority of our annual savings will come from the firefighters working longer shifts and the reduction of overtime.”

The transition of District firefighters will occur on December 31, 2012.

The San Miguel Fire District and its Board of Directors will remain intact, and the District will continue to own all of its assets. While the District’s suppression personnel will transfer to State employment, several District employees will remain. These positions would include a Fire Marshal, two Fire Inspectors, a Business Services Manager, a Secretary, a Fleet Maintenance Supervisor, a Fire Apparatus Mechanic and a Public Information Officer.

The San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District is experiencing its fourth year of declining revenue vs. expenditures. The District has lost roughly 20 percent (about $2.5 million) of its property tax revenue since 2009.

Ninety-seven percent of the District’s revenue comes from property taxes. For the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012, the District was facing a budget shortfall of approximately $1.6 million. Since the current economic crisis began the District has reduced expenses by millions of dollars. Reductions included:

– Permanent closure of Engine 15.

– Station 23 shifted temporarily to a two-person medic squad from a three-person engine.

– Significant employee givebacks, which included increasing the amount employees contribute to pensions, as well as paying a greater share of their medical benefits. Other concessions included the elimination of holiday pay for rank and file employees, decreased leave earn rates, the reduction of overtime and implementation of furlough days.

– Reductions in personnel.

– Significant reductions in overall expenditures.

In an attempt to eliminate the structural budget deficit and maintain the existing level of direct emergency services, the Board of Directors authorized a Request for Proposal be issued to surrounding fire agencies.

This in turn led to the CAL FIRE proposal, the only proposal that was received.

The primary objective of the Board and the Fire Chief is to ensure that the citizens and businesses of the San Miguel Fire District receive the best level of service possible within the resources available. During the course of the contract, the San Miguel Board of Directors will monitor all aspects of CAL FIRE’s performance to help ensure service levels for residents remain at the high quality expected.

The San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District is the largest fire district in San Diego County. The District was formed on July 1, 1988 through a merger of the Spring Valley and the Grossmont/Mt. Helix Fire Protection Districts, and again on July 3, 2008 with the East County Fire Protection District. The District has grown over the past 20 years in commercial businesses, housing density and population.

The District provides suppression, prevention and emergency medical services to approximately 134,000 residents. Its suppression force responds to approximately 9,000 fire and medical-related emergencies annually, serving the Communities of Bostonia, Casa de Oro, Crest, Grossmont/Mt. Helix, La Presa, Rancho San Diego, Spring Valley, and unincorporated areas of El Cajon and La Mesa.

Mary Moran September 27, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Do we need 7 Board members? Or could 5 do the job?
Mary Moran September 27, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Jimmy, im not sure what SMFD positions correlate with the pensions above (Chief, Division Chief, etc...) , but i know for sure that union firefighters do not make that kind of a pension. The media and some politicians have not been accurately conveying the actual pensions of the majority of union firefighters. Rather they focus on non-union pensions and double-dipping retirees. For example, recently retired non-union SMFD Chief Ghio will receive two pensions amounting to over $200k annually - from San Diego City Fire and San Miguel Fire, plus full health care benefits for life.
William Kiel September 30, 2012 at 07:57 AM
Note that the Fire Board voted UNANIMOUSLY 7-0 with all members voting YES to enter into a 5-1/2 year $68 MILLION DOLLAR contract with Cal-Fire. Not only does this mean that our community loses the ability to hire of fire the Fire Chief, regardless of his performance, but our Fire Fighters will be forced to transition from a 56 hour work week to a 72 hour work week. Not only do these long hours with the very real possibility of our firefighters getting no sleep for up to three consecutive days poses a serious risk to their safety it also poses a risk to our safety. Consider that same firefighter having to make life and death decisions regarding the treatment of say, a serious automobile accident victim. Would you like you emergency care provider making critical decistions that could very well impact you for life, making these decisions with no sleep for the last three days? This really could happen to YOU.... Even with their abysmal financial failure, the Board did not volunteer to give up their free dental insurance paid for by us. They also did not volunteer to give up their free cell phone data plan paid for by, you guessed it, we the taxpaying community. THEY decided to keep their perks, they must really believe they deserve them.
William Kiel September 30, 2012 at 08:02 AM
The Board of Directors saw fit to hire Chief Gio, our last Fire Chief. He supervised a staff of about 84 people. The Governor of California, Gerry Brown, supervises a staff of over 250,000 people, over a quarter of a million people. Who would you guess made the higher salary. If you guessed Chief Gio made the higher salary you would be correct. This Board hired him, negotiated his salary and paid him for over five years. These abuses are why I decided to run for the Board. If anyone would like information about where I stand please check out my web site: www.williamkiel.com
William Kiel September 30, 2012 at 08:08 AM
Well it gets better than that, the Board did decide to give up there health benefits, but still insisted on retaining their dental insurance. Two Board members either current or former will receive health insurance for LIFE. They also Decided we the taxpayers should pick up the cost of the cell phone data plan. All this because they feel their part time job justifies it. I guess they feel they deserve it.


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