Brownouts for local fire stations have been taken off the table as county officials plan to use one-time funds to bolster deficits in the Kern County Fire Department budget.
Citing the need to save $6.5 million annually, Fire Chief David Witt prepared a plan that would have temporarily closed an average of three fire stations per day for the next year. The plan was considered solid enough that in July, the county’s Human Resources Department set up a negotiation meeting with the local fire union over the brownouts.
However, after the County Administrative Office worked with Witt to mitigate the need for the brownouts, the meeting was called off. Still, the fire union was alarmed by the plan, going so far as to organize a community campaign to keep all stations open.
“We will see an increase in life loss, we will see an increase in property loss with delay in response times,” union President Dave Nelson said of the potential for fire station closures.