MARTINEZ -- Residents concerned about the pending closure of the Shell Avenue fire station will have an opportunity to meet with fire district leaders next week.
The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at Martinez Junior High School, 1600 Court St. Contra Costa fire Chief Daryl Louder and members of the fire district board are expected to attend the meeting.
"We want to give (the community) the opportunity to ask questions and express their concerns and be able to update them on things we're doing, initiatives the district is doing to try and maintain enough protection for the affected areas as we possibly can," Louder said.
The closure this month of fire station No. 12 on Shell Avenue in Martinez and three stations in Walnut Creek, Clayton and Lafayette is expected to save the district between $6 million and $8 million per fiscal year from its $102.4 million annual budget.
County supervisors voted unanimously to close the stations last month after voters soundly rejected Measure Q, the fire district's temporary $75 annual property tax that would have raised about $17 million per year, enough to keep all 28 fire stations open.
The two remaining fire stations in Martinez are on Jones Street, near City Hall, and north of Highway 4 on Church street, across from Nancy Boyd Park.
Louder told the supervisors the district considered response times, availability of mutual aid and the effect on systemwide service when deciding which stations to close. Residents who spoke at the meeting were concerned about longer response times for emergency medical and fire calls and the loss of the station that is closest to the Shell Oil refinery.
Although ConFire staff respond to refinery calls, Louder noted that Shell has its own fire brigade whose members are trained to handle flammable liquids and refinery incidents. In the event of a large fire, firefighters from the downtown Martinez station would respond, as the next closest unit, Louder said.
Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder said he's worried about how longer response times will affect the community. He believes it's time for a comprehensive review of the entire fire district to determine the most efficient way to deliver services.
"You have to look at where is the most efficient spot, given today's demographics, for a fire station to cover the district properly," Schroder said.
Councilman Mark Ross has suggested that the city explore the idea of establishing a community services district if residents would be willing to pay more to keep the fire station open. According to the county registrar, about 53 percent of Martinez residents voted in favor of Measure Q, which needed two-thirds support. So convincing people to pony up more to keep the station open might be a hard sell.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.
What: Contra Costa County Fire
District community meeting on Martinez fire station closure
When: 6:30 p.m., Jan. 10
Where: Martinez Junior High School, 1600 Court St.