Cities to study fire mergerBy Staff
Burlingame, one of four cities considering consolidating their fire departments, will be the first to consider approving its share of a contract to study how such changes should be made.
On Monday, the Burlingame City Council will vote to pay $20,000, one-fourth of the study's cost, to Citygate Associates to create a plan for implementing the merger of the fire services between Burlingame, Millbrae, Hillsborough and San Bruno. Burlingame is the first of the four cities to vote on the contract since fire and city officials decided during a study session earlier this month that technical analysis was needed. Burlingame's share of the study will come from the city's contingency fund.
A discussion to merge Central County Fire - which consists of Burlingame and Hillsborough - with Millbrae and San Bruno for a total annual savings to all cities of $2.5 million began some time ago. Such a move would require Burlingame and Millbrae to each close fire stations and build a new station on Skyline Boulevard in Burlingame. It would also cut 14.5 staff positions, according to a report being considered this month by the four cities.
The report by the Matrix Consulting Group, finished in September 2008, analyzes three scenarios - Central County consolidation with Millbrae, Central County consolidation with both Millbrae and San Bruno and a consolidation of San Bruno and Millbrae. Councils are quietly moving forward with an implementation plan, but there is no indication yet what combination of consolidation upon which the four cities will agree.
How the departments are consolidated will determine how much money each city could save.
Central County is currently funded 60 percent by Burlingame and 40 percent by Hillsborough. Burlingame stands to save the most money annually if Central County merges with only Millbrae. Burlingame will save $1.1 million - or 12 percent - by merging with both.
Under the option to consolidate all cities, Burlingame will save $679,016, Hillsborough will save $638,146, Millbrae will save $435,344 and San Bruno will save $758,948. In all, the fully consolidated department could save the cities a total of 9.5 percent annually, according to the report.
The county has two other merged departments. The Belmont-San Carlos Fire Department formed in 1979 as the South County Fire Authority. Pacifica, Daly City and Brisbane later formed North County Fire Authority.
Copyright ©2009 San Mateo Daily Journal. Published 12/31/2009.