County to take over GG fire services

OCFA to take over fire services

By Brady Rhoades

The Garden Grove City Council last week voted to disband the city’s Fire Department and contract with the county.

Starting Aug. 16 of this year, the Orange County Fire Authority will provide fire and emergency medical services.

“Public safety is a top priority for our City Council, especially when it comes to providing the highest level of services that meet the growing needs of our city, said Mayor Steve Jones. “I’m confident that the OCFA will not only meet, but will surpass our expectations to protect Garden Grove from destructive fires, and render emergency aid when it’s vitally needed.

The decision comes after several months of study and deliberation that began in March 2018 when the city received a proposal from the OCFA to provide the city with fire and emergency services. The city has been facing a budget crisis —

more than $1 million in the red — and was looking for ways to save on operating expenses, among many reasons for exploring the option.

Contracting with the county will save the city about $2 million in operating costs, according to city officials, though critics say it doesn’t address the core budget problem: unfunded pension liabilities.

Some residents are opposed to the move.

“I’m not entirely for this move at all,” said Tony Flores. “I don’t think it’s going to save us money at all.” It’s sad. We’re being told services will be better. I’m not convinced of that.”

Meanwhile, the OCFA is preparing for the change.

“We welcome the Garden Grove firefighters to our department,” said OCFA Board Chair Joseph Muller. “Working together, I know these professionals will provide exceptional emergency services to the entire region including the city of

Garden Grove.”

Under the provisions of the contract, the OCFA will provide for all personnel and administration, emergency response units and equipment, including vehicle depreciation and replacement, routine station maintenance, fire prevention (plan check reviews, fire inspections, and permits), and community fire education.

“Transitioning a city fire department is complex and time consuming,” said OCFA Fire Chief Brian Fennessy. “We have a team in place to ensure a smooth transition, and that the citizens are well-served. I look forward to working with a new group of skilled firefighters.”

Currently, the Garden Grove Fire Department employs 77 uniformed personnel that will continue to serve under the OCFA. In addition, paramedics will now have the benefit of a medical director and on-staff nurses to help with education and oversight.

“My goal is to make our transition over to the OCFA as seamless as possible for everyone. It’s an exciting new chapter in our city, that in the end, will raise the level of safety and services we currently have, and that’s something positive to look forward to,” said Garden Grove City Manager Scott Stiles.