Fire Chief: Big Wave report mischaracterizes impacts upon fire services

The Fire Chief of the Coastside Fire Protection District says that his answers to a survey sent to him by the consultant writing the environmental report on Big Wave were mischaracterized in the final report.

In his answers to a short series of questions Cole indicated on each question dealing with potential impacts that he lacked enough information to make a proper evaluation and suggested the potential for major impacts upon the fire department.

The Big Wave draft environmental report is supposed to detail impacts upon the community, including additional costs to the fire department, so that the community can evaluate the project’s effects upon the community. The draft report is now in its public review period, which ends December 24th.

The consultant, paid for by Big Wave but contracted via the County, is Christopher A. Joseph and Associates of Petaluma. The draft report was approved by the Big Wave developer prior to release to the public.

In the report the impact upon fire services is listed as “no significant impact,” a categorical term that indicates that the fire department will not need to hire additional staff or purchase any significant new equipment as a result of the construction of the 300,000 square foot facility, allowing the developer to avoid mitigation measures to compensate for impacts that are significant.

However, Chief Paul Cole draws a line between his answers to the questions and the rosy interpretation of his answers printed in the report. “I said what I said. Period.” says Cole. (The report, over two thousand pages in length, has been heavily criticized for finding “no significant impact” in every category despite the project’s record-breaking size and environmental controversies.)

One key question asked whether Big Wave would result in a need for new facilities. Chief Cole wrote in his answer that a new company of firemen might be required in the area and that, since the existing station could not support the additional company, the station would need to be expanded or a new station would need to be built.

Yet the report, though it mentions these concerns, dismisses them in its analysis. When asked if the consultant had made contact with Cole or the fire department in addition to the questionnaire Cole responded, “No. They sent the questions in, out of the blue, and that was the last I heard from them.”

In the same set of answers given to the consultant, Cole suggests the potential need for purchasing a new ladder truck, in addition to hiring a new company and building a new fire station, citing the height of the Big Wave buildings and the layout of the complex as factors. “A new ladder truck would run about a million dollars,” he said.

The letter to Cole from the consultant failed to offer key information such as the number of employees that would be expected to be at the site. Other documents suggest that well over 700 people would be expected on the site at any one time during the day.

A nearly identical letter from Christopher A. Joseph and Associates was sent to the Sherrif’s department asking similar questions about Big Wave’s potential impact. The answers, like those from the fire department, declared a need for more information. In the draft environmental report the consultant concluded that Big Wave would have “no significant impact” upon police services.

Click on this link to download a copy of the consultant’s questionnaire and Chief Cole’s response.

Click on this link for a copy of the questionnaire to the Sheriff’s Office and the response.

Finally, click on this link to read the chapter on Police and Fire Services in the Big Wave draft environmental report.

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