An interesting article from about the City of San Bernardino wanting to contract for fire services after their municipal bankruptcy.

A federal judge refused a request Thursday, Aug. 6, from San Bernardino city firefighters to stop the city from moving forward with plans to contract out for fire services. The proposal to turn over the fire department to an outside agency is a key element of the city’s bankruptcy plan, which relies heavily on outsourcing some city functions.

The city council is set to consider proposals from the San Bernardino County Fire Department and a private firm at its Aug. 24 meeting. City officials will recommend that the council choose the county [according to] City Manager Allen Parker.

The San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters filed an emergency request Wednesday, Aug. 5, asking for a temporary restraining order to stop the city. Corey Glave, an attorney for the firefighters union, said the group sought the emergency stay to ensure that the city maintained the status quo and eliminated any threat of firefighters losing their jobs before the bankruptcy court had a chance to rule on the issue.

During Thursday’s hearing in U.S. District Court in Riverside, Judge Meredith Jury said she did not believe the union had shown that the situation rose to the level of an emergency. For that to occur, the city would have had to actually issue layoff notices, she said. Jury noted this was the first emergency request she’d received in the three years since the city filed for bankruptcy and she preferred a process that allowed more time for legal arguments to be made and considered.

The judge agreed to consider the union’s request at a Sept. 17 hearing, where she will also take up the issue of whether the city is obligated to negotiate with the union about outsourcing.

Paul Glassman, San Bernardino’s bankruptcy attorney, said the city does not anticipate laying anyone off before that date.

This was the fire union’s second attempt to block the contracting plan. Last month, Jury ruled that the city charter did not prevent San Bernardino from doing so, which the union argued was the case.

City officials say the contracting proposal requires that existing firefighters have the opportunity to stay on but the union noted that it’s not a guarantee they’ll all have jobs.

Meanwhile, her decision allows the city to make a selection and begin negotiations. If the council chooses the county, it will file an application Sept. 1 with the Local Agency Formation Commission for the city to be absorbed by the fire district. The process would involve hearings before the agency, which decides on boundary changes, that would take several months.

A previous post on this issue is HERE