CPF District 4 represents the counties of Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.

Vacaville Firefighters Host 16th Annual Crab Feed

For more than a decade and a half, members of the Vacaville Firefighters Association, Local 3501 have used cracked crab and clarified butter to give back to the citizens they serve. 

Every year, Local 3501 hosts its annual spring crab feed, which serves as a fundraiser for the local’s charity fund. To date, the event, which celebrated its sixteenth anniversary in 2017, has raised nearly $300,000, allowing them to give back to the community while hosting a night of fun that has become something of a local institution. 

“It’s amazing what this event has become,” said Local 3501 President Kevin Moreno. “This started as a way to connect with the community. We never could have imagined how the community would embrace this event.”

Over the past 16 years, the crab feed has become a seasonal fixture on calendars throughout the region, allowing the local to pack event venues using the event’s reputation alone. The 700 tickets for this year’s 80s-themed, event sold out months in advance, and were limited to strictly word-of-mouth advertizing due to the overwhelming demand, Moreno said. 

“A lot of organizations host crab feeds throughout the year, but no one does it quite like the firefighters,” he added. 

Throughout the evening, crab feed attendees were treated fresh seafood, drinks and firefighter pipe and drum bands playing classics such as Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”

“It’s a fun evening that’s become one of the bigger events in town,” Moreno said, noting that, in addition to raising money for charity, the event provides a valuable opportunity for firefighters to meet and mingle with the citizens they protect. 

“Things like this allow members of our communities to meet with their firefighters outside of the station,” Moreno said. “That level of interaction goes a long way in the end.”

Alameda County Ambulance Future ‘in Limbo’

Roughly a year ago, Alameda County Firefighters, Local 55 was ready to dive in to a request for proposals (RFP) process for ambulance service, the culmination of nearly four years of work to bring a public-private model to one of the Bay Area’s largest counties.

Today, such a success seems anything but certain.

“Where we are today is basically where we were four years ago,” said Local 55 President Sean Burrows. “We are completely in limbo.”

The uncertainty regarding the future of the county’s ambulance service began in earnest back in 2013, when the county’s private provider, Paramedics Plus, informed the county that they intended to execute their 90-day walkout provision, a move that would leave the county with no private vender in its exclusive operating area (EOA). As a result, the county, after weighing a $5 million bailout to help offset losses assumed by the vendor, began discussions to overhaul how business was conducted within the EOA.

“At that time, Local 55 started looking at an Alliance model,” Burrows said, referencing the public-private model currently being operated by the Contra Costa County Fire Department and American Medical Response.

Despite momentum for a public-private model beginning to build at the county level, Alameda’s local emergency medical authority began signaling a lack of support for such a proposal, and without explanation progress stalled.

Local 55 leadership learned that the LEMSA had expressed concerns about governance structure of a public-private model as it related the Board of Supervisors, despite a similar model having already been approved by the state in Contra Costa.

In October 2016, in an unexpected move, the county issued an RFP that called for a vendor to provide service throughout Alameda County. The county’s RFP dramatically changed how ambulance service would be provided in Alameda County, calling for the elimination of 201 funding and changing work rules for 5150 transports, Burrows said.

The release prompted an emergency meeting of stakeholders across the county.

“We had the labor reps and all of the fire chiefs in one room and came up with a strategy to stop the RFP,” Burrows said. “In under a week, we got the RFP suspended and it remains in suspense today.”

Despite the success of blocking the county’s initial RFP, Local 55’s request that a second, clean RFP be issued has gone unheeded, leading to significant uncertainty regarding the future.

“We have a provider who has indicated that, with no plan or RFP in place, their intention is to leave the county,” Burrows said.

Meanwhile, the state of the current ambulance system has left stakeholders and the public wanting drastically needed improvements. 

“Because the RFP that was issues was so focused on preventing a pubic/private partnership, we are left with the system we have today which is in complete chaos. We have paramedic based engines and trucks sitting on scene for 45, 60, or even 90 minutes waiting for ambulances to respond,” Burrows said. “The implementation of MPDS (mobile priority dispatch system) has been a complete failure. Routinely our members respond to incidents that are miscategorised. Patients that should be a high priority are determined a low priority due to the 911 callers inability to relay information or other barriers.” 

With such dire problems in place, Local 55 stands ready to act, whenever county leadership is willing to do the same. 

“If we get a clean RFP out, we’re ready to move,” Burrows said.