Fire Station 8 in Foothills Park will only be staffed during high fire danger days this summer as part of the first in a series of efficiency changes, decided after the Palo Alto Fire Department received a detailed analysis of service calls.
Fire Chief Eric Nickel says the station on Page Mill Road in Foothills Park will be staffed on high fire danger days for a minimum of 12 hours, and those hours will be extended if fire weather conditions extend into the overnight hours. The deployment change will reduce overtime costs and mandatory overtime, which occurs when employees are required to remain at work if personnel are not available for the next shift- a common occurrence during summer months.
The analysis found Fire Station 8 received 19 calls last summer and only 10 of those calls when the station was staffed during the day. That’s compared to the 8,000 calls Palo Alto received system-wide last year.
Automatic mutual aid agreements are in place with Santa Clara County Fire and Woodside Fire District to handle emergency calls, while Fire Station 2 (Hanover) and Fire Station 5 (Barron Park) can also cover Foothills Park and still meet the rural performance standard adopted by the PAFD that requires the first unit arrive on scene in 20 minutes or less, 90 percent of the time.
This efficiency change is expected to save $282,000 in annual overtime from operating Station 8- a savings that could go toward funding early fire detection camera technology or additional ambulance services. The closure will not impact the department’s wildland fire season home prevention and inspection activities.