Weighed down by overtime, open positions and budget restraints, the San Carlos Fire Department faced a critical juncture last summer.
At a city council meeting in July, San Carlos city manager Jeff Maltbie was authorized to open discussions with the Redwood City city manager for a full service contract.
"This is an item that is of critical importance to city management," Maltbie said.
Seven months later, San Carlos firefighters could get a 14 percent pay raise under a contract Maltbie negotiated with Redwood City for fire protection service.
Redwood City Fire Chief Jim Skinner already oversees the fire stations in San Carlos, so the proposed change would not affect his job and San Carlos' firefighters will join Redwood City's department, becoming eligible for better pay and benefits.
Last July, there were a total of 17 firefighters working in San Carlos. Skinner told city council a minimum of 24 fire personnel are required to run both stations. Of those 24, six are captains, 12 are firefighters/paramedics and six are fire personnel.
It has taken more than a half-year to fill all the positions because of the specialized nature of each position. In San Carlos, a firefighter currently makes up to $86,796 annually.
After the city of San Carlos dissolved its contract with Belmont two years ago, the city council cut salaries 7.5 percent in hopes of balancing the budget. A 2 percent raise was granted in September.