After Much Talk, Brea Decides to Keep Fire Department

Brea ended months of study, debate and discussion over the fate of its Fire Department in a five-hour City Council meeting Tuesday dominated by passionate appeals from supporters of both sides of the issue.

Shortly before midnight, the Brea City Council voted, 3-2, in favor of a reorganization plan presented by the city manager two weeks ago, while scrapping a plan that would have disbanded the city Fire Department and replaced it with services from the Orange County Fire Authority.

Residents, firefighters and Fire Department officials aired many concerns during the meeting. The speakers largely fell into two camps: those who feared using OCFA services would result in a loss of local control; and those who believed that OCFA would provide better service at a lower cost than the Brea department can.

City Manager Tim O’Donnell told the council that the plan is the “next logical step” in the process and said he expects that it will save the city approximately $6.5 million over the next five years.

The savings are planned to come from the elimination of nine positions in the department through attrition, an expansion of the apprentice program, and new regulations on overtime.

Councilmen Marty Simonoff and Roy Moore voted against the reorganization plan, saying they had not had sufficient time to review it.