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


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Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Captain Wins Bronze Star for Military Service

As a fire captain, Ken Atkinson of Livermore-Pleasanton Firefighters Local 1974 has had his share of difficult calls, including being first on scene when one of his brother firefighters – Scott Walsh – came close to his death in a horrific fire.

But Brother Atkinson’s willingness to put his life on the line goes well beyond his day job in the fire service. He’s also a Green Beret, and now, a decorated war hero.

This past fall, Army National Guard Special Forces Weapons Sergeant Ken Atkinson was awarded the Bronze Star for “exceptionally meritorious service” as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan in late 2016 and early 2017. Atkinson won his honors as part of Special Forces Detachment Alpha, which was deployed in Eastern Nangathar Province – right on the border with Afghanistan and right in the teeth of ISIS.

“We were sent into the valley three days after (the U.S.) had dropped the largest non-nuclear weapon,” Atkinson said. “My team was specifically targeting ISIS.”

Surrounded on three sides by the enemy, Atkinson’s team and its Afghan Army partners faced a nearly unrelenting small arms, mortar and artillery barrage. “We lost a few men who were in a vehicle that was blown up, and an interpreter was killed,” he recalled.

In all, Atkinson and his detachment participated in at least 14 large-scale operations, clearing dozens of ISIS compounds, targeting enemy networks and capturing illegal narcotics. In the Bronze Star Award citation declared Sgt. Atkinson’s actions were “in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect distinct credit upon himself and … the United States Army.”

Atkinson’s deployment was his third since he joined the National Guard in 2012, having previously been deployed twice in Africa. But the fire service always beckons, and he’s currently “deployed” in the firehouse in Livermore-Pleasanton. And he’s passing on his own tradition to his children: One son is a Green Beret, another a Cosumnes firefighter.


Alameda Co.’s Ambulance RFP Deemed ‘Illegal’ by Superior Court

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In the latest turn of events in Alameda County’s ongoing ambulance procurement saga, a Superior Court has tossed out an illegal attempt by the county to prohibit the public-private model being backed by Alameda County’s firefighters. 

In the decision, the court ruled that the county’s prohibition against a contractor-subcontractor, or alliance, model was indeed illegal, and ordered the country to scrap the tainted portion of the request for proposals that had previously drawn the ire of Alameda County Firefighters, Local 55. The suit was filed by the California Fire Chiefs Association against both the California Emergency Medical Services Authority and the Alameda County EMS Agency.

The decision is only the latest development in a string of events that stretches back to 2013, when the existing provider signaled that it planned to execute a 90-day walkout provision and triggered discussions of a roughly $5 million bailout to help offset losses by the private vendor. In the wake of these discussions, the Alameda County Fire Department, with the support of Local 55 began discussion so a public-private partnership model that would be entered into consideration during the county’s next request for proposal (RFP) period.  

The idea of a public-private partnership is one that has been met with success in nearby Contra Costa county, where the county fire department has partnered with American Medical Response for ambulance care. 

In October 2016, plans for an alliance model in Alameda County took an unexpected blow when the county issued an RFP that called for a vendor to provide service throughout Alameda County. The county’s RFP barred the contractor-subcontractor model, while dramatically changing how ambulance service would be provided in Alameda County, calling for the elimination of 201 funding and changing work rules for 5150 transports, said Local 55 President Sean Burrows.

“The judge’s ruling that the county and state do not have the ability to prohibit a contractor-subcontractor model is a victory,” Burrows said. “I think it’s a bellwether for the state and fire departments across California, and clearly shows that the alliance model cannot be prohibited.” 

 “This is a major win for California’s firefighters,” said Lew Stone, secretary treasurer of CPF and a member of the state’s EMS Commission. “Not only does it uphold the position that prohibiting the alliance-style model is illegal, it puts EMSA and LEMSAs up and down the state on notice that CPF locals are talking to one another, and are ready to step up when these sorts of antics surface in the future.”

With the existing RFP has been deemed illegal, the Alameda County EMS Agency remains resistant to allowing the fire department to participate in EMS transport in the county. In the days following the ruling, an addendum to the RFP was issued, outlining a variety of restrictions that appear to be aimed at eliminating the department’s ability to bid, and signaling, if anything, that the issue is far from settled.

“While the victory in the courts was an important one, it’s far from the final fight,” Burrows said. “We’ve been dealing with this issue for more than four years, and the latest action by the LEMSA suggests that we’re not done fighting just yet.”