Oakland, Calif., will begin deactivating some of its fire engines and shuttering stations temporarily on Thursday in a budget-cutting move that drew criticism from firefighters and neighboring communities that contract with the city for fire protection.
The fire department will deactivate three engines for six days at a time over the next five months, effectively closing three of the city's 25 stations, each of which operate with one engine. The only station not affected is at Oakland International Airport. The move is expected to save $5 million.
Local officials and firefighters criticized the move and threatened to take legal action to prevent the closures. Some firefighters say their work now is more crucial than ever as they are often the first responders during the COVID pandemic.
"You have the domino effect that ends up emptying the city of fire engines because they're all covering for each other's calls," said Zac Unger, president of Oakland Firefighters Local 55.