Oakland firefighters have suspended their drive to amend the city charter to prevent future fire service cuts.

Last month, firefighters fanned out throughout the city to collect the more than 20,000 signatures needed to place an initiative on the November ballot that would have set in stone current staffing levels and permanently end rotating brownouts at Oakland's fire stations.

But firefighters stopped the push after tentatively getting agreement from the city to safeguard staffing levels as part of negotiations on a new union contract. Negotiations on a new contract are still ongoing, union President Daniel Robertson said.

The fire union had proposed a nearly identical charter amendment 10 years ago but withdrew it after minimum staffing requirements were written in the 2004 Measure Y public safety tax measure. The city will be trying to renew Measure Y this year, and support from the fire union is seen as critical in helping secure the two-thirds majority needed for passage.

Hayward to build fire station, health clinic

Construction of a South Hayward fire station and an adjacent health clinic is expected to start in June.

The clinic is being built on city land, but it will be run by Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center under a contract with Alameda County.

The two buildings will cost about $12.2 million to build, with the county contributing $1.2 million toward the clinic. Hayward already has paid for design and some engineering work, so it will need to come up with $10.8 million. The city will borrow $5.3 million from its water enterprise fund, and a private loan will cover the rest.

For the past 16 years, firefighters at Station 7 have been using modular buildings that need to be replaced, City Manager Fran David told the City Council on Tuesday. The new two-story firehouse at 28270 Huntwood Ave. and the clinic next door should be finished in about 10 months, fire Chief Garrett Contreras said.

The clinic is a pilot program with the county that originally had five locations, but Hayward's is the only one going forward at this point, David said. Alameda County will cover the cost of running the clinic. The staff will come back to the council with a final funding plan in May.

"It makes sense, the partnering with the county," Councilwoman Barbara Halliday said at Tuesday's meeting. "I wish they were putting up a little more money."

During construction, firefighters will be housed at Palma Ceia Baptist Church, a half mile from Station 7.

"Let us know how the firefighters do at church attendance," Mayor Michael Sweeney joked to a church member at the meeting.

Oakland firm gets $1 million grant

Heliotrope Technologies Inc. received $1 million from a U.S. Energy Department grant program to help small businesses develop clean energy technologies.

The Oakland-based firm is developing a new type of window that reduces a building's energy consumption by optimizing energy from the sun.

The grant program awarded $17 million to companies in 13 states.