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October 14, 2011 (San Diego's East County) -- The San Miguel Fire District's Fire Expo has been cancelled due to a labor dispute,  district spokesman Leonard Villareal informed ECM this morning.  The event was set for tomorrow at the Rancho San Diego Towne Center.


The District has issued the following statement:


With deep regret the San Miguel Fire District (the District) must cancel the San Miguel “Safe and Sound” Fire Expo set for Saturday October 15, 2011.

As the result of a labor dispute, Firefighters have withdrawn their off duty support of this community event.


The District remains grateful for all of the community support, in the planning of the event and deeply apologizes for this unfortunate development. Please keep in mind the fire threat to the community is still very real. Please continue to learn more on prevention and preparedness by visiting our website at

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ASHAMED Retired Local Firefighter

I am truly ashamed to be connected to these union members. To pullout of the Safe and Sound Expo shows just unprofessional theses men and women are. If you look at the Union's web site, you can see that the Union is trying to scare the public into thinking that this Labor Dispute is over "Health and Safety" of the Firefighters of San Miguel. Let me tell everyone it is NOT over "Health and Safety", it is over PAY AND BENEFITS. Did you know that The San Miguel Union Members get Over $1200 a MONTH just for health care alone? and this is a "LIFETIME" benefit. They also have a contract that states they don't have to do any work in or around the stations on Sundays! How many of you reading this can go to work and do nothing being paid over $20/hr? The fact is that these men and women have been very well paid for years and years. The economy has hit us all, and they are twisting the truth to make it look like they are the victims. I say go to a meeting and hear the truth, make up your own minds. It is because of high pension and benefit costs coupled with the decline in the property tax revenues, the District can not provide the same service levels.
You decide, do you want a fire engine in your fire station or do you want to continue to pay these union members large salaries and benefit packages? I know what I would choose! Please be at the Meeting on October 26th. I know I will be!

Who Please?

With such bold statements, I'm sure everyone is very curious to know who you are to validate that you are really a firefighter, especially after I called and checked on line and learned that some of your posted information is flawed and wrong...

First off there is no where

First off there is no where in there that states I am firefighter. I am an involved community member that resides in the SMFPD. Not sure what info you looked up on line but I can back my statements. The fire Chief even acknowledged that he "was the highest paid chief in the county". He states that "he is paying his 9 percent share for his retirement" but what he failed to state is that he gave himself a 3% pay raise to off set. He was let go from SDFD for a reason and unfortunately SMFPD has inherited him and he has driven the department into the ground. As for the call with a less than desirable outcome, I personally know a family member involved and I know for a FACT department policy/program funding was changed because of this call!! So if you want specific information please let me know what "wrong information" I posted and I will be sure to back it up for you. Or how about you attend the board meeting.

don't be too quick to judge ....

Most of you reading are basing your opinion on very few facts. Have you been to a PUBLIC board meeting when department issues are being discussed? Probably not, but I have. The Chief cancelled the EXPO not the firefighters. If you talked to any of the firefighters you would they are there to support the community. Did you know the Chief is the HIGHEST paid in the county and receives a FULL retirement from SDFD and while the firefighter's took pay cuts he got a pay raise? Did you know that DC drives a department car to/fro Riverside and you the tax payer is paying for the gas? Did you know that many of the board members are offered medical/dental benefits from their employers but use the San Miguel benefits so they can collect cafeteria allowances? Asked them why they do not give up their benefits and they "table" that conversation until next time. Did you know that there are programs (PIO, new training facility, etc) that are being funded knowing there is no money to continue or maintain them? Did you know that while "supporting" one of these programs the Chief allowed an engine to go out of service in a busy community and a serious medical call occurred with a less than desirable outcome? Did you know that they are reducing staffing at another fire station .... hope it's not your house that's on fire!! And the list can go on .... Before you judge any further go to the next meeting and get the facts!! Always remember there is more than one side to the story and the media is notorious for twisting the story and taking statements out of context.


According to CBS news almost 80% of firefighters nationwide are volunteers. It's only in California, where unions have taken over "public" service, that you find a negative opinion of volunteer firefighters. Go figure?

Volunteers? Are you Kidding?

82% of the population in the United States lives in urban areas. I'm sure major cities like San Diego, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and more would function well on volunteers (hahaha). You'd get a response to your traffic accident or house fire about 30 minutes after you called. Imagine what your home insurance rates would be!

Clearly small communities like Borrego with no traffic and small populations can't afford a full time fire department and function on volunteers.

But common sense dictates that this reported statistic from CBS, if it was head properly, is clearly not true.

By the way, all of those listed cities and thousands more are unionized.

If we dip that low to 'volunteerize' everything, why stop there? Why not make all of the police volunteers too? CA is going to very quickly revert back to a criminals state with the pending release of the tens of thousands of State prisoners anyway, and the ever increasing push by the legislature to remove your right to protect yourself.

Don't Blame the Firefighters! Put the Blame where it Belongs!

Mr EastCountyCitizen,

I am at a loss to understand how you can speak with any credibility about fiscal responsibility and money management when you cancelled the Beer Expo at the stadium the day before the event. To the best of my knowledge, there are still hundreds or thousands of people who have not been refunded their ticket costs and vendors who remain unpaid.

Add to that the simultaneous failure of the 'Jamul/Rancho San Diego Chamber of Commerce,' funded with public monies, and your credibility dips further and further.

Why must government balance their budgets off the backs of the employees? Upper fire management has taken no cuts. In fact, at a Board meeting in I believe 2009, management had an 'adjustment' (just so happened to be a raise) while all other employees took a true salary cut. Why must the people at the bottom, who have no real control over the budgetary process to begin with, be forced to carry the burden of poor fiscal management?

Personally, I want the best firefighters we can obtain. I don't want our fire men and women leaving for other agencies because of pay or morale issues. We're not talking a government non priority job or position here. These people respond to our community emergencies multiple times each day. The next emergency may be you or a beloved family member.

Maybe you should attend a

Maybe you should attend a Board meeting and ask them why they have closed an engine at station 15, have taken pay and benefits from the firemen over the last four years including retirement cuts, while stile having a full admin staff including a "district spokesman" and the HIGHEST pay fire chief in the whole county while getting a full retirement from San Diego fire.

Also, ask why at the last Board meeting the Board chose to do nothing to reduce their own pay for their meetings and "FULL" health care and dental. They have made zero cuts to themselves or any of the admin staff that includes a board secretary, a district spokesman/public information officer, and a chief that drives his car home every night to his house in Riverside!

And now they are talking about taking firemen off fire trucks, and use temporary want to be firefighters in their place.

I guess those awful firefighters should just suck it up and hand out stickers to kids and do nothing about the board and the chiefs that tearing down the fire department. The firemen are here for years everyday in our neighborhoods trying to help us with our emergencies, the fire board members and the fire chief are here a few years and then off they go to their next government position.

You tell me who should be ashamed of themselves?

Cancellation of the Expo Shameful

I am very angry that San Miguel Fire District has decided to take their labor dispute out on the community and the children that were looking forward to going to the event yesterday, those are the ones that you really hurt and I agree with the prior comment that come election time any board member or issue that is supported or back by a union will not be getting my vote. To have the audacity to say you deeply regret this decision, such a lie, if you really had the best interest of the community at heart instead of your own selfish agenda you would still be having the Expo. This action definitely puts a black mark on the pride of being a firefighter and you have lost the real reason why someone would want to go into that field.

News Flash!

From what I know the union did not cancel the fire expo the fire chief did but for some magical reason the media and good intended but ill informed vocalists always seem to blame the big bad unions. Why is that? This great country was build in large part by union hands If you understood the true reason behind firefighers decison you would be very angry but for the RIGHT reason. Your anger is misdirected. As one AmericanCitizen I hope parents will take this opportunity to explain FACTS to their kids as to why the expo did not happen and not rely on half-truths spun in the media. At some point someone needs to stand up for what is RIGHT and what is BEST for the CITIZENS of this COMMUNITY and the CHILDREN. Your local firefighters are doing just that. Get educated as to the FACTS. Then and only then will you be angry for the RIGHT reasons.

Extreamly Irritating

East County Citizen,
Wow how quickly you come out and run over a group of people. I will write this trying to be more understanding and try to look at a bigger picture here. You seem to be very narrow minded and seem to only look at one part of this very big picture.
Question that first come to my mind as a Citizen of this district. Why in the world would a group of firefighters do something so publicly? Especially when they know they are possible going to be looked at in a very negative manner.
Well I truly feel they are trying to get the word out that there are some bigger issues in this business then probably you and I know. I have spent some time going through their web site trying to educate myself on the issues. Yes, like you I also hear about issues and grumbles going on in the local fire service. But I am trying to keep my mind opens and not closed. You immediately go at attacking which I feel is wrong. Try looking at the bigger picture.
San Miguel has a Fire Chief that is very charismatic and is known for building a very good organization. He has the same history in San Diego Fire, but he also has a history of building an organization that can’t pay its bills. He continues to build these empires and can’t fund them. He has had the same management and staff during these hard times. Why wouldn’t he trim in the offices just like he has done in the fire houses? We keep hearing about stations closing like they did at station 15. Now there is an info going around about lowering the staffing on the fire trucks which would mean even less firefighters. How can I trust they are going to be able to help me if there are fewer personnel on the fire trucks? Seems to me like this Chief and Fire Board isn’t doing their job. Seems very one sided. Try comparing this business with other local fire businesses. See what their management staff looks like. I know these firefighters have taken huge cuts in pay just like the rest of us citizens. I would venture to say this Chief is sitting very well and not feeling to cuts the personnel on the trucks are feeling. So I say let look at the bigger picture please before we go bashing a group of people when we don’t have the complete picture in view. It isn’t just one groups fault, this falls on the back of the CEO and Board of Directors of the San Miguel Fire. We voted them into office to keep this department in check. Now this department is over a million dollars in debt and they want to take more firefighters away from my emergency when I call. How about they do some house cleaning and really tighten up the belts before they take away the people that help us every day. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip so how about looking at other areas besides the firefighters. Maybe this is why the firefighters have taken their stand about their Fire Expo to get the public to look at the issue which is much deeper. East County Citizen your view is warped and you truly have a lack of understanding of the fire business. Get involved and learn before you speak about something you have no knowledge in. You need to spend more time educating yourself on the issues and not listening to the media who will always put a slant on issues.

ECM would like to hear from the union on this.

I must admit, I fail to see how cancelling an event that benefits children and the community, and at the last minute no less, furthers whatever cause the firefighters want to put forward.  If you have legitimate beefs with the district, why not make your case to the media and public AFTER this event?


ECM was supposed to have a booth there to sign up East County residents for our Viejas Wildfire and Emergency Alerts. Fire season is here, and we lost our opportunity to let the public know about this valuable service to help keep people safe.


I have been a member of a labor union myself in the past and am generally sympathetic to working people, particularly those who put their lives on the line to protect us all.  But I am truly at a loss to understand how firefighters who are supposed to be concerned about public safety could do this. If you have concerns over pay, benefits, or something else, why not take your case to the media first and public instead of forcing cancellation of an event that's important for community safety?


Feel free to post here and contact if you wish to be interviewed.

Fire Expo Cancellation

It's a shame that San Miguel Firefighters are forced to put up with a union
that wants to screw the community and force the cancellation of this event.
Remember how they fed us crap during the election last year? Take a look at
their website for the spin they want us to believe. (
Trying to make us believe the district is unsafe. I would bet money that some of
the “volunteer firefighters” are upset that they cannot participate. Not all
firefighters agree with the “union decision”.

Why did the union withdraw one day prior to the event?
Same old San Miguel Firefights union. Remember this at the next board elections
and see what type of crap they try to spin then.

And what about all the community volunteers that were screwed because of
this. This was an event that had been in the works for some time. Many hours of
hard work down the drain.

Shame on the union. San Miguel Fire District IS safe. Not because of the
union but because of its hard working employees and its board of directors.

Times are tough for everyone. Everyone has had to rethink how he or she goes
about doing business. The union doesn't think so They want more and to

I will be voting for anyone NOT supported by the
union at he next election.

Another News Flash!

EastCountyCitizen I'm confused.

You wrote,
Shame on the union. San Miguel Fire District IS safe. Not because of the union but because of its hard working employees and its board of directors.

Arent their firefighters hard working employees to? Who do you think belong to the unions of San Miguel? Just curious.

No community IS safe. Think Cedar. Just sayin....