Friday, December 3, 2010

No Hill fire stations closing, Poppet Flats affected

As part of proposed $4.4 million budget savings, Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins has recommended closing three fire stations. While none on the Hill, several nearby stations are affected, including Poppet Flats (Station 63) to the north and Lake Riverside (Station 77) to the southwest.

The career firefighter staff at these two stations and at El Cariso (Station 51) will be withdrawn and the stations will be staffed solely with Reserve volunteer firefighters. In addition, the two pages of proposals include the closing of a 2-person paramedic squad in Anza (station 29) and adding a single paramedic firefighter to the crew of CAL FIRE engine at the station.

Hawkins recommendations which included several other shifts and reductions were forwarded to County Executive Officer Bill Luna just be Thanksgiving. Luna has placed them on the Board of supervisors’ agenda for its meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 9.

None of the other recommendations have a direct affect on the Hill. For example, closing a 3-persone paramedic engine companies in Blythe, El Cerrito, West Riverside and Oasis.

Hawkins anticipates the changes will begin on Jan. 1, 2011 and will continue through next fiscal year. In a message to his the department, Hawkins said, "I know these reductions are difficult … I do know the Board of Supervisors all dearly respect our work and what we do. they also know we have tried to save budget funds over the last several years since the economic decline started during 2008."

While nearly 80 positions might be eliminated, current vacancies through Riverside County fire Department may limited the actual number of firefighters who are released to between 20 and 30.

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