Fire Department FAQ
Please note this FAQ reflects my personal opinions only. As is true throughout my website, I am speaking on my own behalf only, not on behalf of the full City Council or the City of Sebastopol.
1. Why is there a need to make changes in our fire department?
Our fire department is underfunded and understaffed. Our volunteers do an amazing job of serving our community, but there's only so quickly they can respond when they are coming from their homes. We need newer equipment and improved facilities and changes in our staffing model. Firefighters, staff, and the City Council agree on these points. We need to navigate a more secure financial future for the fire department, and to make sure it's a future that will improve our services to the community.
2. How is the City Council going to get advice on the best options for the fire department?
The City Council has approved a contract to retain a consultant - Matrix Consulting Group - to provide a neutral, independent assessment of the options available to ensure the future stability of finances and services to the community. That decision was made by the City Council on August 2, 2022. The documents related to that City Council meeting are listed below. The recording of the August 2, 2022 meeting at which the City Council voted to award the contract to Matrix Consulting can be found HERE.
Document Details: All documents mentioned here in answer to question #2 can be found in the Staff Report submitted to the City Council by the Ad Hoc Fire Committee at the August 2, 2022 City Council meeting:
- The full August 2 Staff Report (117 pages) can be found HERE.
- The Request for Proposals issued by the City of Sebastopol is Exhibit C to the Staff Report, found at pages 18-32 of the 117-page Report.
- The Proposal by Matrix Consulting Group is Exhibit D to the Staff Report, found at pages 33-73 of the 117-page Report.
3. Is the City Council intending to eliminate funding for the fire department?
No, there is no plan to reduce or eliminate funding for our fire department. The discussion so far at the City Council level has recognized that our fire department needs more funding, not less. The budget for this current fiscal year, for example, includes $1,299,000 for the fire department. There is no intent to eliminate funding.
4. Is the Fire House at Bodega and Jewell going to be closed?
No, there is no plan to close the Sebastopol Fire House. The idea of consolidating with Gold Ridge Fire District, which has been discussed at City Council meetings, and will be considered by Matrix Consulting, has never included even a suggestion that the Sebastopol Fire House would be closed.
5. Has a decision been made about the future of the Fire Department?
No, there has been no decision made about the future of the Fire Department. The City Council has been clear that it will not make a decision until the study from Matrix is final and can be fully considered.
6. Will the Volunteer firefighters be included in the assessment being done by Matrix?
Yes, the volunteer firefighters will be included. Matrix has committed to engaging the firefighters in the process undertaken to collect information to help formulate the recommendations in the study.
7. When will the Matrix study be final?
Matrix expects to submit a final report in late November or early December. That timeline could change depending on a variety of issues, but that is their plan at this point.