OCEANSIDE — City Council recently approved the relocation of temporary Fire Station No. 8 to a more central location.
“It is more central into the city,” Fire Chief Darryl Hebert said. “It will reduce response times.”
The move from 4927 Oceanside Boulevard to 1935 Avenida Del Oro will also put the station closer to the future site of permanent Fire Station No. 8, which is expected to be funded and built in seven years.
Currently interior renovations of the new temporary station have started, including building a bathroom and sleeping quarters. Renovations are expected to be finished by the end of March.
The temporary station will not have its own fuel supply or hose racks like a permanent stations, but Hebert said it will be up and functioning this Spring.
At a later meeting City Council also gave the Fire Department an OK for an additional $150,000 in overtime funds.
Over the past four years the Fire Department has cut its staff by seven and reduced its total budget by 1 to 2 percent a year to meet city budget goals.
Its overtime budget dropped from approximately $3.5 million to $1.5 million.
Overtime pay allows the department to stay continually staffed during unexpected employee leaves, sick days and injuries. A budget estimate is made of expected overtime costs. The option to pay overtime saves the department the cost of hiring additional employees.
Anticipating unforeseen long-term personnel vacancies and associated overtime costs is not easy. This year two employees left to take other positions.
The hiring and training process to fill vacant positions takes four to six months. Current employees will work overtime to fill in until the hiring process is complete.
“It’s very difficult to project overtime in a fire department budget,” Hebert said. “We have 33 on duty a day. If someone vacates one of those positions we can’t leave the spot vacant.”
The department plans to conduct a comprehensive analysis of its overtime budget and request additional necessary funds during city budget planning.
Recently approved funds prevented fire station brown outs. If additional funds are not OK’d in next year’s budget the city will need to face the alternative of fire station brown outs again.