Almanac

News - August 10, 2011

Menlo fire district forges new deal with Palo Alto

by Gennady Sheyner

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District has forged a new partnership with the Palo Alto Fire Department — an agreement that officials say strengthens the mutual-aid arrangement between the two agencies.

The agreement, which the Palo Alto City Council unanimously passed Aug. 1, is scheduled to go to the fire district's board of directors later this month and is expected to be fully implemented by the end of the year, according to Palo Alto Fire Deputy Chief Roger Bloom. The previous agreement took effect in 1999 and officials from both agencies felt it was due for an update.

The new agreement adds a truck company and a battalion chief from each agency to the automatic-aid arrangement. It also expands Palo Alto's boundary for coverage to Bay Road in East Palo Alto and the fire district's coverage into West Bayshore, the Palo Alto Airport and the Baylands, according to a report by Mr. Bloom.

Leaders of both agencies praised the new arrangement for further boosting the region's fire-protection services. At the Aug. 1 council meeting, Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District praised the new agreement for supporting a regional approach to fire protection.

"At the end of the day, I don't think the people care what the fire truck says," Chief Schapelhouman said. "They care that we're here on time, they care that we do a good job."

Mr. Bloom agreed and said the new automatic-aid agreement "seeks to improve fire and emergency services to both communities by effectively using automatic aid as part of a regional solution for immediate assistance regardless of the jurisdiction and not affected by County lines."

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District serves Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and unincorporated areas. Under the new agreement, which will be in effect for five years, the district would also provide water-rescue response for incidents around San Francisquito Creek and the Baylands near the Palo Alto Airport.

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