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The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District said firefighters experienced 30% more activity on July 4 compared to last year.

In an oral report given Tuesday during the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Board meeting, the fire chief said Lewis Broschard Providing data and visibility into service calls and other events in the district.

The focus, however, was on the Fourth of July holiday, which saw most of the activity in the cities of Antioch, Pittsburg and Bay Point – including a fatal shooting.

“Unfortunately, the Fourth of July this year was not a disappointment. It was busy, and that’s an understatement,” Broschard said, adding that there was an incredible volume of calls from 9 p.m. to midnight. “Before and after that, it was busy.”

He said the district deployed 2-3 additional dispatchers and responded to 1,104 calls between 10 a.m. and 3 a.m. On a normal day, call volume is about a few hundred calls – on July 4, it was almost four times the normal amount.

Calls included:

  • 92 fire reports (outside) in total
  • 16 vegetation fires
  • 13 building fires
  • 128 medical emergency calls.
  • 60 more calls and 8 more fire alarms.

A total of 317 emergency calls were made, most of which were calls related to fire or emergency services related to the Fourth of July activities.

“Usually on the Fourth of July everyone heads east to Pittsburgh and Antioch, where the lion’s share of the activity takes place, and this year was no different,” Broschard explained.

On July 4, the Contra Costa County Fire Department relied on outside agencies for help — except for the Richmond and El Cerrito fire departments. He noted that they borrowed three fire trucks from the San Ramon Valley Fire Department and two fire trucks from Moraga-Orinda, Rodeo and Crockett, and the federal fire service provided two fire trucks.

Contra Costa CountyContra Costa County

“Everyone was on the job trying to handle the incidents that were occurring,” Broschard said, adding that they also had to try to cover other areas where there were still calls for service.

“By far the largest force requesting and needing our services was the city of Antioch, primarily due to vegetation fires. One of those was quite large and significant when a fire broke out behind a gas station and further up the hill and immediately threatened half a dozen homes. We had to evacuate that street and send several units to the fire to keep it under control for a couple of hours,” Broschard said.

He also explained that they implemented a “reduced alert plan” around 9:00 p.m., which affected certain calls that required fire engines to be sent, and they were unable to send them for a period of time on July 4. They also reduced the number of resources sent to fires – usually 5 units, but often they would send 3 units because they don’t have enough units for everyone, the same goes for vegetation fires.

“We’re already behind when the sun goes down and we’re literally running from fire to fire,” Broschard said. “Most of these fires end up being fairly small. I can say that almost all of the structure fires have not resulted in significant building damage or loss of buildings due to fireworks.”

He explained that most fires were fought with one or two fire engines on site, and pointed out that fireworks set off near homes cause fires that are then fought. He spoke of a dance of shifting firefighters back and forth, and when someone is available, they are sent to a new call.

He said the number of incidents will increase by almost 30% by 2024.

“It’s frustrating for us because we’re doing everything we can to be proactive. We had a press conference that was well covered, we had our law enforcement partners there, the District Attorney was there, CALFIRE was there. In some communities, that just doesn’t seem to be accompanied by a change in behavior. Year after year, it’s the same story. This year, I think, was more frustrating because it’s been a long, hot week for everybody,” Broschard explained. “We’ll continue to look at potential solutions. Next year, when the Fourth of July falls on a Friday, I expect the numbers to be just as bad, if not worse.”

He expected that they would face another difficult Fourth of July in 2025.

At sight John Gioia He believes they are doing a good job of making it known that fireworks are illegal and that the people who set them off know that they are illegal.

“I’m always frustrated when people say you need to do a better job. Why is it like a war zone here? Unfortunately, it is,” said Gioia, who asked the boss for his opinion on what could be done to be more effective.

Broschard said he was curious to see what other jurisdictions have done (he named Woodland), but noted that it would require police manpower, but credited the outreach efforts with a press conference, signs and on social media.

“It’s a resource issue on the part of law enforcement because a police officer is taken off duty for half an hour just to issue a citation. Probably up to two hours if they’re going to detain or arrest somebody,” Broschard explained. “So many other things happened that night. There was a shooting in Pittsburg around midnight. It takes multiple police officers to handle that incident and there’s nothing else they can do. Some communities have higher fines and penalties, but I also think you hope someone makes the decision that it’s not worth it… I haven’t seen anything really effective yet.”

He explained that they will follow up on the information they receive about this work to prevent fireworks displays that could be repeated in Contra Costa County, where it was again attributed to a resource issue and people being “apathetic” toward the issue.

At sight Diane Burgis She said she believes “we don’t rely on personal responsibility as much as we used to and really think that needs to be emphasized more and more. If we’re teaching our kids to do something that’s not legal” while defying law enforcement and firefighters when they try to enforce those things, “that’s dangerous and expensive and hopefully people can start practicing personal responsibility at home.”

At sight Candace Andersen asked if the task force wanted to destroy fireworks – with reference to Alameda County.

Broschard said they have done this in the past but have not had results in other years. However, he acknowledged that they rely on CALFIRE for these raids due to the limited number of fire investigators they have at their disposal. He called it a resource issue between CALFIRE, CONFIRE and law enforcement.

“It’s good advertising and a good reminder, but the results are not showing up in the kind of significant reduction in overall activity that we’ve seen,” Broschard said.


Activity in June:

“The month of June was not a disappointment. June is usually our busiest month of the year because of the wind and dry grass,” explained Broschard. “There are several vegetation fires throughout the month.”

The chief explained what happens in the summer months when westerly winds blow in the cities of Antioch and Pittsburgh: dry vegetation grows next to houses, in settlements and residential areas. Especially in the month of June, not all fire-fighting measures are in place, so there is a higher risk that the fire will spread to buildings.

He also described the number of 13 building fires in June as “higher than normal.”

Twelve significant vegetation fires occurred throughout the county. The two most significant events occurred at the old Pittsburg Golf Course, where an old maintenance building that caught fire encroached into the vegetation. Structural protection was required for homes adjacent to the golf course property. A second, rapidly spreading vegetation fire occurred in Antioch, which also required structural protection for homes adjacent to the fire site. A total of 250 acres burned. In both cases, no homes were damaged or destroyed, thanks to the actions of firefighters and CAL FIRE air forces.

There were 13 building fires in June, the most serious of which was a fire in a Pittsburgh apartment building. Firefighters pulled two victims from the apartment. Both were not breathing at the time of rescue but regained spontaneous breathing after treatment. The adult victim was recently listed as stable, but the hospital declined to provide information on the juvenile victim’s status.

Fire engineFire engine

Additional Information:

  • At the June 17 quarterly meeting with the hospital board and leaders from all of the county’s hospitals, it became clear to most hospitals that increasing patient volumes continue to challenge them to reduce discharge times. Dr. Kidane of the county EMS agency recommended allocating resources specifically to eliminating discharge delays. Sutter Delta’s model continues to be successful in reducing patient discharge delays.
  • The first 12 fire paramedic students to graduate from Contra Costa College’s program have completed the didactic (classroom) portion of their training and have begun their hands-on training. An additional 12 district members have been selected to begin the next cohort on August 2. With the inability to recruit new fire paramedic recruits in large numbers, the district has turned to training its own members to become fire paramedics to ensure we can continue to provide advanced life support (ALS) to our communities.
  • The Contra Costa County Wildfire Mitigation Program concluded the 2023/2024 year with 103 completed projects and 88 projects still in the request portal for review.
  • The launch ceremonies for the two new aerial ladder trucks took place in June. The first truck was put into service at Fire Station 92 in Brentwood. The second truck was put into service at Fire Station 81 in Antioch.
  • The project to replace the concrete in the equipment shaft and on the front apron of Fire Station 14 in Martinez is completed
  • Fire Station 94, Brentwood: Staff has continued to meet with the design-build teams that will provide proposals for the project. We anticipate final selections in August. The final selected team will be responsible for getting the design through the Brentwood Planning Commission.
  • Fire Station 90, Brentwood: A preferred alternative site has been identified. Preliminary soil samples have been taken and results indicate the site does not have any major contamination issues. Staff are working to advance the project to the next steps.

Rodeo Hercules Annexation Discussions

  • Two town hall meetings were held in the towns of Rodeo and Hercules in June. The fire chief and other district leaders attended these events, along with the interim Rodeo-Hercules fire chief and his advisor.
  • The board of Rodeo-Hercules FPD will now examine the issue at its board meeting on July 10 and determine the next steps.