Making the point that the department is basically immune from the state budget crisis Cal Fire offered up some modest cuts by laying off seasonal firefighters in Riverside County. The Press Enterprise (PE.com) offers up particulars that include the shuddering of seasonal stations.
Seasonal firefighters used to be hired in May and released in September. Seasonal stations used to be fully staffed only during the fire season then closed for the winter months.
In the aftermath of the Cedar Fire pressure was put on the state to staff stations in Southern California year round. In response Cal Fire extended the seasonal tour to 9 months for some “seasonal” firefighters.
In reality these are phantom budget moves. These positions have been padding for years. These extended seasonal positions were not even in the budget 5 years ago. These easy cuts make state fire officials look like they are contributing. It looks good but six million dollars in savings doesn’t cover one-tenth the suppression costs of the Indians Fire back in June.
What is made clear in the PE.com article is the lay-offs will not compromise local firefighting efforts in Riverside County.
“Corona Fire Chief David Waltemeyer said without the Cal Fire station, the city may not be able to get assistance as quickly. But he expects few if any wildfires in the next few months.
“I think there are other resources to fill in any gaps that exist,” Waltemeyer said. “I don’t have any tremendous concerns about it.”
If this is the extent of the cuts asked from Cal Fire then the department escaped the mother of all budget deficits unscathed.