By Matt Bigler
The City of Oakland faces deep cuts to city services due to the pandemic, and Oakland firefighters are launching a campaign to keep fire stations open amid orders from the city manager and mayor’s office to cut services. The city has asked all departments to cut their budgets by 20% to 30% due to a $62 million deficit.
Zac Unger, president of the Oakland firefighters union, is calling on Oakland residents to contact the city and ask that fire stations be exempted from budget cuts. “Every day a different fire station will be closed. So you won’t know if your businesses will be protected that day, you wont know if your kids will be protected that day,” he told KCBS Radio. “You just have to hope that you have a fire engine in your district.”
He noted that fire station “brownouts” will affect every Oakland neighborhood, emphasizing that the planned closures will severely delay response times at a time when fire crews are busier than ever during the pandemic. “For the city manager and the mayor to cut the fire department now, as we face ever increasing threats from pandemics, wildfires, and other risks is just unconscionable,” explained Unger.
The last time Oakland closed fire stations was in 2008 during the height of the Great Recession.