Two Davis fire stations could soon have fewer firefighters on staff, but officials say it'll save the city money, while also improving service to the community.
That's because another station could gain a firefighter and more flexibility in how its rescue unit can be used.
The Davis City Council on Tuesday night is scheduled to discuss the Fire Department staffing proposal, which could cut one firefighter from the "daily minimum staffing" model and save $360,000 annually.
Currently, all three fire stations in town have four people on staff; that's so they can follow a "two in, two out" model when responding to fires, according to a city staff report.
But if each station drops to three firefighters on its engine company, and the Fifth Street Station 31 adds two people to a rescue unit, it would add flexibility and save money, city staff say.
"Currently, Rescue 31 must respond in tandem with Engine 31 to all calls," the staff report states. "By making the Rescue a stand-alone unit, the rescue could respond to traffic accidents in Station 32 and 33’s first-in area and leave Engine 31 in quarters to respond to additional calls."
The issue has been supported in the past by the Davis Enterprise and the People's Vanguard of Davis.
"I would like to see some out-of-the-box thinking," the Vanguard's David Greenwald wrote in December. "This is not a matter of their attempting to save jobs - no current employees lose their jobs based on this staffing arrangement. In fact, according to the interim chief, we will actually have to hire new firefighters."
The city council in January adopted changes to the fire department's response-time goals, a fire-management plan with UC Davis and a boundary drop. The Enterprise reported that those changes went down easily, but fire union officials have been digging in for a fight on any staffing reductions.
"But a decision on a recommendation to revert to three-person fire crews won’t be quite as easy," an editorial last week wrote.
The city council meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at 23 Russell Blvd.