The firefighter pension crisis in Contra Costa County has lit a fire under National Public Radio.
Correspondent Caitlin Kenney says, "The fact is there aren't as many fires as there used to be. Smoke alarms, sprinklers and new building codes have changed life for firefighters. And that's got people here asking, if the fire department is changing, why is it still costing us so much?"
When the economy went sour, firefighters and retired firefighters were taken aback by the public's change in attitude. People used to buy retired firefighters drinks. But now, says retired fire captain Jaad Ajlouny, "Just sitting around in a bar, you know, minding my own business and a guy yells over: Hey, Jaad, come on over here and buy me a drink with that retirement I paid for."
The defeat of a tax measure in November caused ConFire to go ahead with a plan to close stations in Lafayette, Martinez and Walnut Creek, and restrict hours at the station in Clayton. The last couple of a series of meetings discussing the implications of those closures are tonight in Walnut Creek and Wednesday night in Clayton:
- 7 p.m. tonight (Tuesday) at Walnut Heights Elementary School, 4064 Walnut Blvd., Walnut Creek.
- 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Clayton Community Library, 6125 Clayton Road, Clayton.