In what was most likely the final meeting of the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Department Board of Commissioners, board chairman Warren Lieberman on Wednesday night took the opportunity to recognize the 40 members of the department for their service and commitment to the department.
The Belmont-San Carlos Fire Department will be dissolved at midnight, Sept. 30, and service will be terminated. Each city will operate as an independent entity in its respective city on Oct. 1. The dissolution follows a lengthy and often contentious process during which each city explored alternative options for fire protection.
Lieberman read the names, positions and start dates of each firefighter, captain, inspector, administrator, battalion chief, and acting chief at Wednesday's meeting.
“Our fire department is a group of very special people and I want to thank them for their years of service,” said Lieberman. He requested all in attendance to stand and applaud the department.
Belmont’s fire department will act independently, with its administrative offices in City Hall alongside the Police Department, forming the City’s Public Safety Administration Office.
According to San Carlos assistant city manager, Brian Moura, the staffing of the new San Carlos Fire Dept. will be as follows: six captains, eight firefighters and seven firefighter/paramedics, a fire inspector and an emergency preparedness coordinator.
Fire Department Management for San Carlos will be provided by Redwood City (sharing the positions of fire chief, deputy fire chief, fire marshall and battalion chiefs between San Carlos and Redwood City).
Moura explained that in terms of employees coming over to San Carlos from Belmont-San Carlos Fire, there will be five fire captains , five firefighters and two firefighter/paramedics.
The balance of the San Carlos Fire Department staff (one captain, three firefighters and five pararamedics) are coming from Fire & Emergency Medical agencies in San Mateo County and the Bay Area.
Doug Fry, former Belmont-San Carlos Fire Chief, will serve as for the Belmont Fire Department.
Battalion chiefs Tommy Mota, Gary Fauth and Michael Gaffney were on hand in full formal dress for their recognition at the meeting. Fauth has worn two hats during the dissolution process: battalion chief, and acting chief. All three will serve with the Belmont Fire Department.
Gaffney, who had been a Belmont resident since 1961, said, “Our focus is doing the work the JPA (Joint Power Authority) has been doing since 1979,” referring to the signed agreement that created the South County Fire Authority, which approved budgets, worked out labor agreements, made purchases, etc. “In addition to which handling administrative tasks, our staff will be working with the people in the community.”
The Belmont-San Carlos Fire Commission may reconvene in the near future to take care of any outstanding financial obligations, per the JPA agreement that states agencies must remain intact until all bills are paid.