Last year, Pinole’s deteriorating financial situation forced the city council to ‘brown-out’ two of its fire companies. The resulting plan, which deactivated two engines for every third shift, was part of a one-time budget solution.

This year, the budgets and financial situation hasn’t improved, leaving the city facing further difficult choices.

Industry expert, former fire chief, and consultant Stewart Gary told the city council that they have no choice. They can’t field fire responses on their own anymore.

Their only option is to turn to the city’s neighbors as partners.

From the Contra Costa Times:

Pinole cannot muster enough firefighters to safely extinguish a common house fire, without help from its neighbors.

The West Contra Costa city can no longer afford the protection it has — but merging with one of the cash-strapped departments nearby would only cost the city more.

That bleak news came out of a City Council workshop about the problem Tuesday night, during which a team of consultants described both the finances and working condition of Pinole Fire Department and its partners, a pair of fire departments that already share the chore of regional emergency response.

Read the full article here.