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Calif. city turns over apparatus maintenance to CAL FIRE

Oroville had only one mechanic, a vacancy in staffing, and was falling behind schedule


Oroville Fire Department/Facebook

By Michael Weber
Chico Enterprise-Record

OROVILLE, Calif. — Oroville diverted another of its fire department duties, temporarily, to Cal Fire-Butte County; no longer manning its fire engines, it will now stop maintaining them too.

Instead, the state fire agency will now assume repair and maintenance of Oroville’s fire equipment for about 15 months. Current mechanic shop personnel strains and an upcoming move to the city’s recently purchased corporation yard prompted Oroville to amend its contract.

Public Works Director Fred Mayo said the change was needed to make sure the city’s custom-built fire equipment is being maintained to its highest standard because a vacancy and injury at the city’s mechanic shop left only one mechanic available to work.

“Our scheduling has been falling back ... with Cal Fire taking over these services, it will reduce time in the shop,” to receive repairs and diagnosing, Mayo said. “If I have one mechanic, I have a fire truck, I have Vac Con and a police car, it becomes very difficult very quickly to get diagnosing done.”

Timely inspections and repairs have fallen behind for some of the 147 units of equipment owned in total by Oroville, according to Mayo.

Thirteen pieces of fire equipment will be assumed by the state and county agency, Mayo said, gaining access to a 24-7 roadside mechanic and a mechanic facility specialized in fire equipment with Cal Fire-Butte County — ceasing any need to contract to local mechanics.

The change in contract comes to a difference of $265,415 through June 30, 2025 when the city’s contract ends — tipping the agreed total to more than $15 million in the contract’s lifetime.

Mayo said there are potential savings with Cal Fire-Butte County having more buying power than the city on purchasing parts, and that some cost savings will come from a vacancy in the Public Works Department.

“I think we’re doing our due diligence to have Cal Fire take over the human resource component of it; the liability of it and the expertise of working on our very complex fire equipment,” Mayo said.

Mayor’s take

Mayor David Pittman said the move was made under the temporary circumstances of the city’s mechanic shop.

The former Oroville fire chief said his point of view is that the city would have better economics if it takes care of its own equipment and supplies its own personnel, and that he looks forward to renegotiating the city’s contract with Cal Fire-Butte County for this among other reasons.

Oroville is due for an upgraded mechanic’s shop at its future corporation yard location this year, at which point Pittman said he hopes the city will resume maintenance responsibility for its owned equipment to save on cost.

“We’re at a time right now where we’re going to have a tough time taking care of our vehicles. ... The city has around 150 vehicles to take care of and we try to have one mechanic for every 20 vehicles,” Pittman said. “We’re way behind.”

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