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City and Stanford Come to Agreement on Fire Service

City and Stanford Come to Agreement on Fire Service

Following more than two years of negotiations, the City of Palo Alto and Stanford have come to agreement on the terms of a new fire service contract that will go to the City Council on August 20 for approval. The negotiations also resolved a claim by Stanford for prior overpayments related to the deactivation of Station 7 that serviced the Stanford Linear Accelerator. 

The new agreement contains the terms of City provided fire protection services for 2018 to 2023, with an option to automatically renew to 2028. Since 2016, the City and Stanford have been meeting to discuss alternative service and cost allocation models. The Palo Alto Fire Department has implemented a number of changes, including instituting a new dynamic deployment model, to respond to a different level of cost allocation to Stanford and changing community needs focused more on emergency medical services as compared to fire suppression.

“The City and Stanford benefit from the continuation of these services,” said City Manager James Keene.  “Stanford wants to receive and the City wants to deliver the highest quality and cost-effective emergency response services.  Palo Alto residents will benefit from the economies of scale associated with the resources needed to serve Stanford that will be available community-wide.” 

Key terms of the new agreement with Stanford call for response times consistent with services in Palo Alto, an agreed upon methodology to calculate costs, and an effort to cut down on false alarms. The Stanford Fire Station (Station 6) will be staffed with six daily positions staffing one fire engine, the equivalent of one rapid response vehicle and one fire ladder truck. Costs to Stanford will be based on an agreed-upon methodology that allocates expenses for 4.5 daily positions and associated equipment, as well as a proportionate share of other citywide positions as shared resources.

“This agreement ensures long-term stability in the delivery of medical and fire/rescue services, and the innovative deployment model will meet community expectations,” said Fire Chief Eric Nickel. The innovative deployment was recently highlighted by the Fire Department’s external accreditation evaluators as a model for the future of the fire service. 

Both City and Stanford officials expressed appreciation that the sides were able to come to terms. “For more than 40 years, the City and Stanford have partnered on providing critical fire protection services to the campus and community,” said Stanford Associate Vice President Jean McCown. “We are very pleased we were able to come to an agreement and extend this important relationship into the future.” 

One element of moving forward with a new fire service agreement is the resolution of a disagreement regarding billing during the 2012 to 2016 period. The dispute occurred over the amount of savings credited to Stanford after the City discontinued staffing Station 7 following SLAC’s decision to seek fire protection services from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District in 2012.   

Under the settlement of the claim, the City will pay Stanford $5.5 million by July 1, 2019, which is approximately 15 percent of the billings during the 2012 to 2016 time period. In addition, the original agreement, which was brokered in 1976, provided for the conversion of fire apparatus provided by Stanford, and the City will credit the value of the equipment – approximately $1 million – toward payments due from Stanford for future fire services.

Last Updated: August 16, 2018