With 19 days to spare, Oakdale area gets final OK for fire service from Modesto

The Modesto Fire Department will add the Oakdale area to its operations under an agreement that got final approval Tuesday evening.

The Modesto City Council voted unanimously for a three-year agreement for service in the city of Oakdale and the Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District. They have been served since 2014 under contracts with the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District that will expire June 30.

The new agreement could be extended two years if the partners like how the service is going. Leaders on Tuesday said they hope it goes even longer.

“I believe it’s the blueprint for Stanislaus County and its future,” Oakdale Mayor J. R. McCarty told the Modesto council.

The Oakdale council and the Oakdale Rural board approved the agreement at a joint meeting May 29. It was drafted after negotiations over an extension with Stanislaus Consolidated faltered over financial and other issues.

The new deal calls for the Modesto Fire Department to recruit the current Oakdale area firefighters. They are not guaranteed jobs, but leaders have said they hope to keep the forces intact.

The total number of firefighters will increase from 21 to 25 because of economies of scale and the city of Oakdale’s already-planned growth. Modesto will handle fire investigations, safety inspections at businesses, and fire prevention.

Modesto will get $2.63 million a year from the city of Oakdale and $1.97 million from Oakdale Rural. The district serves a 324-square-mile zone that includes Valley Home, Knights Ferry and areas north of Modesto Reservoir and north of Woodward Reservoir.

Modesto Fire Chief Alan Ernst will oversee the Oakdale area operations, including firefighting, medical calls, water rescues and other emergencies.

The plan includes full-time staffing of the two Oakdale Fire Department stations and alternating coverage of the district’s Valley Home and Knights Ferry stations. These buildings and all their vehicles will remain under the ownership of the Oakdale entities.

The agreement includes an advisory committee on budgeting, union negotiations and other matters related to fire service in the Oakdale area.

Stanislaus Consolidated will continue to serve its original area, which includes the east edge of Modesto along with Riverbank, Empire, Waterford and La Grange.