Calif. fire station to reopen after more than a year out of service
The La Verne Fire Station No. 3 was closed in January 2020 due to a staffing shortage
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Calif.
LA VERNE, Calif. — After closing Fire Station No. 3 more than a year ago due to staffing shortages, La Verne may soon fully reopen the station and later hire additional staff, Mayor Tim Hepburn said Tuesday, April 27.
No date has been set for reopening the station, located at 5100 Esperanza Drive, but funding is in place for two new firefighter paramedics, which would increase suppression staff to 11. The new hires mean operations at the station would resume for the first time since January 2020, when the city decided to close the station until it could increase staffing there.
In addition, Hepburn proposes a plan that would staff a paramedic fire engine company at the station, requiring two more hires and ultimately pushing staffing there to 13, he said. Staffing would then be increased to 15 and 17 personnel in the following years, reaching the industry-standard recommended number of fire personnel needed to tackle building fires.
A new ambulance would also be part of the proposal, Hepburn added, giving the fire company two.
That plan, which has yet to be presented to the City Council, hinges on the allocation of additional funding at the May 17 budget meeting. Hepburn said the move is necessary as the department has faced hiring freezes and constant turnover for the past few years.
This latest development comes two months after the City Council voted to let residents have the final say on a possible contract with Los Angeles County to take over the city's Fire Department and emergency medical services. That decision wouldn't take place until June 2022, however, a delay which Hepburn said prompted him to take action now.
"We don't have time to wait anymore, we have to take action," Hepburn said by phone Tuesday. "It's about the safety of our firefighters and of our residents."
At this time, nothing is official beyond funding for the two new firefighter paramedics, said City Manager Bob Russi said Tuesday afternoon.
The city is currently in the process of scheduling interviews for a new fire chief, Russi said. The position is one that many in the Fire Department have said for years is crucial to efforts to retain employees.
Andy Glaze, president of La Verne Firefighters' Association, said Hepburn has the support of the union and has met with interim Fire Chief David Segura about the proposal. If funding is allocated, there would be internal promotions of an additional captain and an engineer, Glaze said.
Additionally, the possibility of having 13 fire suppression staff on hand would be significant as it would mean an automatic agreement aid with LA County. That would permit mutual aid from the county if the department ever needed assistance and vice versa, Glaze said.
"This has always been about safety for us and it looks like we're finally getting that help," Glaze said. "Whether it's LA County or local control, we needed to see that support for our safety and the safety of our citizens."
(c)2021 the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.)