0920 RB Fire

Firefighters with Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Torrance and Los Angeles County Fire Departments work a two-alarm house fire in Redondo Beach, Friday, Sept. 14. (Nathaniel Percy, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

The Manhattan Beach City Council this week threw cold water on a plan to look at turning its Fire Department over to Los Angeles County.

The five-member City Council unanimously decided Tuesday, Nov. 5, not to authorize a full study analyzing the cost and service impacts of switching from its own agency to one run by the L.A. County Fire Department.

That study would have cost $18,000, according to City Manager Bruce Moe.

The county’s initial look at possible savings, which cost Manhattan Beach nothing, estimated the city would spend roughly $1.3 million more in the first year of a county contract than with its own department. But Manhattan Beach could potentially save $9.9 million over 10 years; those savings are based on adjusting for additional costs, such as pensions and building maintenance.

Hermosa Beach made the move to the county in 2018. Redondo Beach recently considered the idea but also pulled back on commissioning a full study, a decision that has resulted in a recall effort of one councilmember. 

Faced with considerable backlash from residents for even considering the idea, the Manhattan Beach City Council appeared united in its desire to have the issue go away.

“Were going to kill this thing right now,” said Councilmember Steve Napolitano, who added it would have been “irresponsible for this city not to look at it.”

The potential savings, it appears, were not enough for the council to move forward, despite its own fire services expected to cost $14.8 million in 2020.

“You’ve asked us to be fiscal stewards of public funds and it is a large dollar amount that our Fire Department costs the city,” said Mayor Nancy Hersman. “This was something we felt we needed to take a look at.”

Hersman, however, said the residents had spoken.

“We’ve heard you, ” Hersman said. “The community is not interested at this time. People want to keep their Fire Department and they don’t like change.”

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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