San Carlos City Council members unanimously voted to negotiate a contract for fire services with Redwood City, but they left open the option of going with a private company if the deal falls through.
Councilors, facing an “anxious and apprehensive” crowd opposing a contract with the private company Wackenhut Services, decided in favor of the Redwood City deal by a 5-0 vote at Monday’s meeting, city officials said.
Under the proposed contract, Redwood City would provide administrative duties, fire prevention, and battalion-chief coverage and supervision to San Carlos, Redwood City fire Chief Jim Skinner said. Later, San Carlos would hire its own working staff to fill vacant positions at its two fire stations.
The move, which in recent months evolved from a proposed merger to more of a hybrid model, could save Redwood City about $1 million to $1.5 million annually and San Carlos about $1.7 million, officials said.
Both cities plan to discuss specifics in the next few weeks, before the Oct. 12 Belmont-San Carlos Fire Department breakup deadline. Belmont and San Carlos officials decided after a mediation plan Friday to drop further attempts to save their joint department.
“So we have a lot of work to do to get this thing up and running,” Skinner said of the new contract. “But I’m confident we’ll get it done.”
Despite the unanimous decision, councilors also voted to continue talks with Wackenhut just in case the Redwood City deal fizzles out.
“I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to reach an agreement,” said Brian Moura, San Carlos’ assistant city and fire project manager. “I might be wrong, but I would personally be very surprised if we had to go down that road.”