Hesperians will have to wait a bit longer for a fire engine or ambulance to arrive next year, as the city gets ready to close one of its fire stations in the wake of a failed revenue-generating ballot measure.


Station 301 on 11th Avenue will close Jan. 1, according to an agreement hammered out last week between San Bernardino County Fire Department and city officials.


The station's ambulance is being moved to Station 305 on Caliente Road and its rescue unit, which carries equipment used for off-road operations, is being moved to Station 304 on Eucalyptus Street. Approximately 75 percent of Hesperia's fire calls are medical in nature.


"We're not sure how this is going to impact response times. We will be monitoring that," city spokeswoman Kelly Malloy said Monday. "The closest ambulance or engine to the call is the one that's dispatched. ... We're hoping to minimize the increase in response time."


The closure follows the failure of Measure F at the ballot box earlier this month. Voters were asked to approve an $85 parcel tax that would have helped fund the Hesperia Fire District, which pays the city's contract with the county fire department. The district is primarily funded by property tax revenues and has been hard-hit during the recession, with revenue dropping 24 percent over three years. Voters resoundingly rejected the measure, with 80 percent of them giving the tax the thumbs-down.


The City Council's July vote to put Measure F on the ballot was coupled with a vote empowering City Manager Mike Podegracz to cut $1.4 million from the fire district's budget the equivalent of nine full-time firefighters should the measure fail. Podegracz was to announce the changes at the Dec. 20 City Council meeting, but the deal was reached sooner than expected and details began to leak out following the distribution of an interdepartmental fire department memo.


The cuts shave $752,000 off the district's $9.2 million budget for this fiscal year, which began on July 1. The city will employ 14 firefighters each shift or 42 in total.


"The city of Hesperia will continue to provide emergency and fire suppression services for the residents of Hesperia," Malloy said. "We look forward to the point where we can reestablish this level of fire service. Public safety is a top priority of the city and this is an unfortunate decision that had to be made."


Spokespersons for the San Bernardino County Fire Department and the San Bernardino County Professional Firefighters, Local 935, both referred inquiries about the changes to the city of Hesperia.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Beatriz E. Valenzuela may be reached at (760) 951-6276 or at BValenzuela@VVDailyPress.com.