County supes select Los Altos Hills fire services evaluator

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors last week approved the next step toward evaluating the effectiveness – and possible restructuring – of the county’s current fire and emergency services model.

Joe Simitian

Supervisors voted unanimously April 20 to award a contract of up to $127,000 to Matrix Consulting Group for the completion of an operational study. Among the tasks accepted by the San Mateo-based company are predicting potential future fire risks, determining the best methods for delivering services and identifying whether additional resources are needed by the Santa Clara County fire districts, including the Los Altos Hills County Fire District.

Before the vote, Supervisor Joe Simitian, who represents Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View, said he also wants the study to address fire prevention and resiliency. His colleagues agreed.

“I want to be really clear: I don’t want to delay the exercise,” Simitian said. “I just want to broaden it to be somewhat more comprehensive in its scope.”

An audit last year by the Board of Supervisors’ Management Audit Division suggested the county could be better served by consolidating the fire districts, an opinion many Los Altos Hills residents don’t share; citing the unique nature of their rural town, they desire to maintain control of their own wildfire management and mitigation programs.

The Matrix Consulting study is taking place concurrently with a fire services review conducted by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) of Santa Clara County. The objectives described in the scope of work accepted by the LAFCO consultant, the Center for Public Safety Management, are similar, but the findings are expected to be less comprehensive. Reps for the Washington, D.C., consultant made a presentation during an April 19 LAFCO Technical Advisory Committee meeting. Per the agreement, their report will cost no more than $150,000.

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