Participating in strike teams for fires up and down California have been financially beneficial to the city of Ceres, members of the City Council learned on Monday evening.
Last August the council decided to return to its former practice of allowing the Ceres fire chief to determine whether or not to send his firefighters to fight forest and rangeland fires in the statewide mutual aid system. The two conditions to participating in mutual-aid requests are that the city would be fully reimbursed and that there would be no manpower shortage at Ceres fire stations.
Members wanted some follow-up to verify if the city was making out ahead when sending strike teams elsewhere. They learned on Monday that participation in two major incidences last year resulted in the city getting $12,452 more than it spent.
The excess funds will go toward the fire apparatus replacement fund.
The city analyzed its costs of sending crews to the Briceburg and Kincade fires. The city is reimbursed by the Office of Emergency Services (OES) in the form of base salaries, overtime, workers compensation insurance, daily apparatus cost, and a 10 percent administrative fee.
For the Briceburg incident, the city spent $15,407 in incurred salary and overtime costs, $500 in vehicle service, $1,250 in payroll tax, and $1,236 in worker’s compensation costs. The grand total spent on the Briceburg effort was $18,9393 with $26,203 coming in reimbursements, leaving $7,810 in excess.
For the Kincade Fire, the city of Ceres’ costs came to $23,776 with a reimbursement of $28,418, leaving a net gain of $4,642.
The total reimbursement for the two mutual-aid assignments was $54,621. After the expenditures were deducted from the total reimbursement there is a remaining balance of $12,452.
The Briceburg Fire engulfed 5,563 acres outside of Yosemite National Park in the Merced River Canyon from Oct. 6 to Oct. 23.
The Kincade Fire burned 77,758 acres in Sonoma County northeast of Geyserville from Oct. 23 to Nov. 6. The fire was the largest of the 2019 California wildfire season, and also the largest wildfire ever in Sonoma County.