MARTINEZ -- A consultant's report on the Contra Costa fire district to be presented to the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is catching flak from several sides, mostly for what it doesn't say.

The report, by Fitch and Associates LLC, was supposed to propose ways to optimize emergency medical and fire response within current severe fiscal limitations.

But a taxpayers group complains that the study seems to concede the need for a tax initiative, likely in two or three years, without seriously tackling the causes of the district's financial woes. Meanwhile, the firefighters union blasts what it interprets as one of the report's findings, saying that "to give the impression that our response capabilities are adequate at current staffing levels is an insult to our profession."

ConFire covers a 304-square-mile territory with 23 stations and 23 three-person crews. The fiscal 2014-15 budget is projected at about $106 million, with a $10.2 million deficit. A November 2012 parcel tax measure that would have raised about $17 million a year for the district fell short of the necessary two-thirds voter approval.

The report describes a service option that reconfigures some groups of two three-engine fire companies to groups of three two-person medical response vehicle crews, without affecting staffing. But altogether, critics say, the study is short on solutions.

"If the study was merely to collect data and display it in beautiful charts, graphs and tables, the consultant did an excellent job," Ken Hambrick, chairman of the Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers, wrote in a comment on the report. "If it was intended for the consultant to make recommendations that could be implemented, save money and help solve the District's financial quagmire, the study falls terribly short."

Hambrick said the study fails to address high salaries and benefits, or look into possibly contracting with CalFire and let American Medical Response handle medical calls. These days both AMR and ConFire respond to medical emergencies, often minutes or fractions of minutes apart.

Vince Wells, president of firefighters Local 1230, said the report does not reveal what is lost in response capability and crew safety by switching to two-person medical response crews.

ConFire Chief Jeff Carman, in an email last week, said he has safety concerns about converting "a three-person multi-tasking, multi-capability resource" into "a two-person single-task resource."

A two-person rescue squad arriving at a fire "won't wait for the next arriving engine and will go to work without the proper tools needed to do the job safely, which means they will do what they can even if it means doing it in an unsafe manner," he wrote.

Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760 or tlochner@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/tomlochner.

If you go:
What: Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors-Fire District Board
Where: County Administration Building, 651 Pine St., Room 107, Martinez
When: 2 p.m. Tuesday
To read the Fitch and Associates Contra Costa fire district study, go to http://bit.ly/MpiaYM. For a PowerPoint presentation, go to http://bit.ly/1fOo39S.