CLAYTON -- With their only fire station already reduced to part-time status, residents who attended a meeting Wednesday night to explain the closure of four fire stations had a question: Why not close Station 22 down the road in Concord, or some other station?
"Why aren't we thinking about sharing the pain?" asked Clayton resident and Richmond firefighter Steve Chandler.
Contra Costa County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, who represents Clayton, and Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Chief Daryl Louder spent most of the three-our meeting explaining the decisions to close stations in Martinez, Lafayette and Walnut Creek and to partially close Clayton's Station 11. The closures were based, they said, on an analysis of the entire 300-square-mile fire district, and not decided city by city.
The pain, they said, would be shared by all because fire engines throughout the district routinely respond to calls in other cities. A crew based in Pleasant Hill, for example, responds to calls in Clayton, leaving that area without its fire unit.
The stations are closing after voters in November rejected Measure Q, a $75 annual parcel tax leaders say provided money needed to help offset steep declines in property tax revenue, the district's only funding mechanism. The district's property tax revenue has declined $32 million since 2008, Louder said.
The fire district called the meeting with residents to explain the future of Clayton's Station 11, which closed on Jan. 15. On Thursday, the fire district began staffing the fire house part-time with an engine from Station 22 on Crystyl Ranch Road. Station 11 will have a crew from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Though Clayton residents are faring better than those in Martinez, Lafayette and Walnut Creek, where stations will be closed indefinitely, concerns about emergency response at the standing-room-only meeting abounded.
One resident facetiously said she better plan to have her emergency during the time the station is open. Another said the fire crew from Station 11 was there in two minutes after she had a massive heart attack.
"If I had to wait for Station 22 or Station 8 I wouldn't be alive today," she said. "We just need that station open."
Louder said his district is looking at a pilot program to staff Station 11 full-time with an EMT vehicle and crew to respond to medical emergencies.
Clayton Councilman Howard Geller encouraged residents to participate in the city's new fire committee, which has its first meeting on Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Clayton Community Library, 6125 Clayton Road.
David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.