City council voted 3-2 (Whitaker and Dunlap “no”) to terminate Fullerton’s partnership with Brea for a shared Fire Department command staff, effective June 30.
The shared command staff agreement began In 2011 as a way to save money for both cities. Fullerton’s current agreement with Brea was set to expire in 2024.
On March 23, Brea City Council voted unanimously to terminate its shared command staff agreement with Fullerton and sent a termination letter on March 24. The letter does not give specific reasons why, but it likely has to do with the fact that Fullerton is considering disbanding its fire department and joining the Orange County Fire Authority.
The Fullerton and Brea Fire Shared Command Staff presently has three vacancies—a Fire Marshal, and two Battalion Chiefs.
According to a staff report, “The cities have found the recruitment to fill these positions difficult given three factors: the uncertainty of Fullerton Fire Department’s future, a desire for the Brea Fire Department to have their own Command Staff, and the inability to formally merge Fullerton and Brea into one agency joint command structure.”
For Fullerton to have its own command staff again will require the City to hire a Fire Chief, since Adam Loeser, who had been chief over both departments, is staying with Brea.
Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Whitaker and Councilmember Nick Dunlap voted against the item, saying that Fullerton’s agreement with Brea requires six month’s notice, not the three months they have requested.
“There was a time frame inserted in the contract for a reason,” Dunlap said.
Councilmember Jesus Silva asked Chief Loeser what the impact would be of extending the agreement for six months.
“I have two members who are pulling double duty, and I have no way to expand upon them or to give them any relief at this point due to the evaluation that’s going on between our current fire department and OCFA, and Brea’s desire to have their own standalone fire department and command staff,” Loeser said.
“Our fire department is stretched thin,” Silva said, supporting the separation. “That, to me, would warrant us moving sooner rather than later.”
Councilmember Ahmad Zahra made a motion to terminate the agreement, effective June 30. This motion passed, with Silva and Mayor Fred Jung voting “yes.”
“This agreement originally was an accord between two neighboring cities that had some merit and value and was a more holistic approach that I think at this point has run its course,” Jung said. “I’m not a fan of keeping the band-aid on when you should pull it, so at this point I would support moving us forward, making sure our own fire command and department has stability and a command staff in place.”
Meanwhile, Fullerton has contracted with a consulting firm to analyze the proposal to disband our fire department and join OCFA.
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