The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is a step closer to annexing Pinole and providing fire service there, after the West County city and Con Fire’s board of directors signed off on the move earlier this month.

The Pinole City Council unanimously gave its consent Oct. 10. The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, in its role as fire district board, approved the merger the following day.

Officially, the supervisors approved Con Fire applying to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), asking for its formal approval — a process that can take months.

If approved, Con Fire would then enter an agreement with Pinole to provide service within its city limits and take over its two fire stations. Only one station is currently in operation — downtown station 73 — as station 74 on Pinole Valley Road was closed in 2011 for lack of funding. It would reopen under the new agreement.

The expanded service would be paid for by city and county funds. The first fiscal year, 2022-23, would cost $7.5 million.

A county staff report said the county wants to get the application to LAFCO for consideration at its Nov. 9 meeting. The report says it is possible for the stations to be up and running as part of Con Fire by March 1, 2023. Contra Costa has already negotiated union agreements to keep the station 73 firefighters employed.

The move would be just the latest in a year of big expansion for Con Fire. In July, the district finalized a much-anticipated consolidation with the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.

The consolidation brought 128,000 residents of East Contra Costa under the purview of the larger district and was expected to improve and streamline service. The district now serves 753,000 county residents. The consolidation expanded Con Fire geographically from 304 to 553 square miles, an increase of 82 percent.

The district has also opened, or reopened, stations in unincorporated Walnut Creek, Oakley and Bay Point. Planning for construction of two additional fire stations in the city of Brentwood is currently underway, with completion date estimates some time in 2024.