Firefighting in Orange County – Part One, Firefighter Pay and Benefits

In June 2019 the City of Placentia, in a 3-1 council vote, decided to leave the Orange County Fire Authority and build their own fire department. The reasons for this decision, and the means to accomplish it, will be explored in greater detail in a follow up article. But the decision came down to this: a majority of members of the city council believed that they could build a fire department of equal or greater effectiveness, at an equal or lessor cost.

The consequences of this decision are significant. How Placentia manages their independent fire department could inspire other cities currently being served by OCFA to withdraw from their contracts and also build their own fire departments. Placentia’s experience may also inspire cities in Orange County that already have independent fire departments to renegotiate the terms of the collective bargaining agreements they’ve made with their firefighter unions.

The Orange County Fire Authority, or OCFA, originally served the cities of Cypress, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Placentia, San Juan Capistrano, Tustin, Villa Park, and Yorba Linda, along with unincorporated areas of Orange County. Since then, new cities have incorporated, and existing cities have decided to choose OCFA services over managing their own fire department. These additional client cities are Aliso Viejo, Buena Park, Dana Point, Garden Grove, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, and Yorba Linda.

So how […] Read More