Fullerton leadership took another step Tuesday night toward considering folding its Fire Department into the Orange County Fire Authority, a regional fire service.

The City Council voted 3-2 to pay a local government consulting firm to evaluate the proposal from OCFA, which was presented to the council at a Jan.18 study session.

“I think it’s best to have a third party analysis, to come back and vet our numbers and OCFA’s numbers,” said Interim City Manager Jeff Collier. “There’s a lot at stake here.”

Fullerton leadership took another step Tuesday night toward considering folding its Fire Department into the Orange County Fire Authority, a regional fire service.

Fullerton leadership took another step Tuesday night toward considering folding its Fire Department into the Orange County Fire Authority, a regional fire service. Photo credit: Malia Arpon

At the Jan. 18 meeting, OCFA officials said that city residents could see improved services by joining the fire authority and- perhaps most crucially for the cash-strapped city- see a marked savings in costs. The council asked city staff to come back with further research at that meeting.

The proposed move comes as the City Council considers how to deal with an ongoing budget deficit. Fullerton voters rejected a sales tax hike in the 2020 election.

Under the proposal, Fullerton would pay approximately $21.5 million in the first year for fire and emergency medical services. The city currently budgets $27.3 million for the fire department.

If the proposal is adopted, it will mean an end to the Fullerton Fire Department, which has served the city for over 113 years. Under the terms of the agreement, all sworn firefighters would be absorbed into the OCFA.

The Orange County Fire Authority serves 23 cities and the unincorporated areas in the county, operating 77 fire stations.

The analysis and cost comparison of the OCFA proposal is expected to be sent to the city in approximately 60-75 days, after which the city council will further discuss the agreement.

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