As requested by Councilmember Bob Lingl, Lompoc Fire Chief Linual White presented a resolution to submit a “Request for Proposal” to Santa Barbara County for the provision of fire services to the City. After decades of under funded fire protection, and in the hope of increased revenues, the Council approved the resolution.
Mayor Mike Siminski supported the resolution with some reservation citing “overall costs” not easily discerned. Former Councilmember Dewayne Holmdahl objected that ultimately “our fire department” would be affected by county level decisions. He also felt the research would show no net benefit to the community.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a formal written instrument between government entities meant to initiate a contractual relationship to provide services. Specifically, the City is now beginning the process that may lead to an end to the fire department established in 1875. No decisions will be made until the proposal is researched and well considered.
Robert Olsen Associates confirmed what was known anecdotally in 2007, with the population increases and no increases in firefighters Lompoc is seriously understaffed. City statistics show a doubling of emergency responses since the last on-line staff increases in 1986. In 2007 a citizens group reported significant staffing shortages compared to like cities in the area.
Compared to other communities Lompoc has a relatively weaker tax base. The recent $5 million dollar budget shortfall has only made better funding more distant.
“This concept is not new to Santa Barbara County, nor is it new to the Lompoc Fire Department,” said Fire Chief White. He cited the history of past considerations and efforts to gain adequate funding. Contracting out fire services to the County has been considered three times. The City Council has repeatedly strained to provide new funding, and in November 2008 voters failed to approve Measure T2008 a public safety sales tax.
Chief White reminded the community that this is “just a look” to find options. The question to be answered, “How we can best provide services to the people of Lompoc, and serve our employees’ best interests?”
Secretary of Firefighters Local 1906 Scott Nunez typified interviews with city firefighters regarding contracting with the County. “We’re just looking for what we have always been. My professional and personal opinion is we need more people on the street,” he said. “We want always what’s best for the public.”
Back to Cover Page