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Statement from the Board of Directors,
the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District
The services provided by the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District are in serious jeopardy. The
failure of Measure B has placed the District in a critical position. Its future existence is in
Yesterday, our Board of Directors met in emergency session to face the stark reality presented
by that failure and took the following actions:
• The Board asked its counsel to prepare a declaration of Fiscal Emergency for passage at its
next regular meeting.
• The Board directed its Employee Relations committee to begin the legal process to lay off
• And, the Board asked counsel to research how to curtail services to areas that do not
contribute to the costs of providing those services.
The Supervisors put Measure B on the ballot to raise the funding needed to facilitate the
consolidation of the District with the Sonoma County Fire District. The consolidation will
stabilize and make sustainable BBFPD which provides the essential Paramedic/ambulance
response and rescue service for a large portion of West County including the tourist impacted
Sonoma Coast. The consolidation will reduce taxes while significantly enhancing and
stabilizing life saving services. Without County funding, there will be no consolidation. The
consolidation was approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission and resoundingly
approved by the voters in the District. But, it could not be completed without financial support
from the County. That support never came.
Without consolidation, the District will fail.
The failure of Measure B has raised serious questions as to whether BBFPD will survive in a
manner that will allow it to provide its life saving services to those who live at or visit the
beautiful but dangerous Sonoma County coast.
For years, it has been clear that the parcel taxpayers of Bodega Bay, a small village, could not
continue to carry the entire financial burden placed on the District by the demands of those
who do not contribute to the cost of readiness for the services they receive.
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For more than a year, the Board of Directors has made clear to all who would listen that,
without outside aid to bring about the consolidation, the agency might fail. Those warnings
were loud and clear. There was no response. The agency is in critical condition and facing the
crisis that both it, and the County’s Financial Analyst had predicted.
As you can see, if you follow the link below, the County’s own financial analysis supports the
fact that the District has done everything within its abilities to effectively manage the taxpayers
money and ensure high quality service. The analysis clearly identifies the problem while
providing clear direction to the Board of Supervisors regarding the funding necessary to
stabilize the organization.
The lifeblood of any business is its employees. For a Fire/EMS agency, like Bodega Bay, to
provide the life saving services demanded by the area, it must have highly skilled firefighters
who are also experienced Paramedics. Their job is to rescue and stabilize patients and to keep
them alive during the long emergency transports to Santa Rosa’s hospitals. There is a national
shortage of Paramedics. There is a shortage of Paramedics in Sonoma County — including in
the agencies that pay better and are more stable than Bodega Bay.
Prior to the failure of Measure B, Bodega Bay had lost 11 Paramedics in 8 years. Almost all had
left because they were young, wanted to raise a family, and wanted jobs where they did not
have to worry, year to year, about whether their employer would survive. An unstable District
and the fact that they are the lowest paid Fire/EMS paramedics, in the Sonoma County
agencies that provide Advanced Life Support, contributed to the mass exodus. We understand
that and have worked to remedy the situation by seeking the County’s support for
Going into Tuesday’s election, BBFPD had one open Paramedic slot. With the future viability of
our agency in question, we were having a hard time filling that slot. Paramedics did not want to
apply for a job that had a questionable future when they could apply for many jobs that did not.
The day after Measure B failed, we lost another Paramedic — an experienced Paramedic who
had moved here from out of state because he wanted to serve in an area that responded to
emergencies on land and sea, on highways and over cliffs. From Day 1, he proved to be a
valuable member of our staff.
One week before the failure of Measure B we celebrated one of his calls. He and his crew had
saved the life of a non-resident who was found “dead” in cardiac arrest. There is no better
moment in EMS than saving a life that was lost.
That euphoria did not last long. With the failure of Measure B, he felt forced to leave.
In his words “the failure of Measure B was the tipping point”. He wanted a stable job. He could
not have that life in a District that lived year to year. Without consolidation, he did not see a
future with BBFPD. And, he did not believe that the County cared enough about what he was
doing to ensure the stability of the District.
He is not alone in that belief. We have been notified by another recent Paramedic hire that he is
applying to other agencies.
The lifeblood of our Fire/EMS District is our employees. If we cannot stabilize our District
through the consolidation with SCFD, we will fail.
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With the failure of Measure B, we are bleeding out. Our lifeblood, our employees are leaving us.
Without immediate help from the County, we will fail.
Like the critical patients we serve, we cannot wait. We need help, now. Talking of a
“transfusion” in months or a year, will not stem the flow. And, if it is not stemmed, like our
patients, we will die.
Surprisingly, while we waited for an immediate, concrete offer of help from our County, which
did not come, we received offers of help from two very unexpected sources — the strongest
opponents to Measure B — Dan Drummond from the Sonoma County Taxpayers Association
and representatives of the Tourism Industry.
Both the Measure’s opponents made clear to us that they did not oppose us — that they
understood our plight and the importance of our unique role in the coastal safety net. They
opposed what they perceived to be other flaws in the measure.
They told us that had the measure been exclusively for BBFPD, they would not have opposed
That measure is behind us. There is no looking back. This is not the time to argue over its
wisdom or why it failed. Or to let hurt feelings from the campaign fester.
Friday morning, Chief Heine of the Sonoma County Fire District and Assistant Chief Herzberg
of the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District, met with representatives of the tourism industry.
They found common ground and pledged to build a coalition to work with the Board of
Supervisors to stabilize Bodega Bay and finalize its consolidation with Sonoma County Fire.
Our opponents are now our partners. They stepped up, immediately. We respectfully request
that our Board of Supervisors do the same.
Hope is not a solution.
That is why we are planning, proactively, for the worst and are taking the drastic steps outlined
at the top of this statement.
For a deeper understanding of the financial crisis, please see the report from Sonoma County’s
Liz Martin — President of the Board of Directors
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Charlie Bone — Vice President of the Board of Directors
Steve Herzberg — Assistant Chief, PIO, the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District