Facebook Pays Menlo Park Firefighters for Protection

The Menlo Park-based social media company agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for enhanced safety devices.

Facebook sent the a check for $150,000 this week to protect employees housed at the company’s headquarters, which are located at 1601 Willow Road. The money will be used to pay for devices that let Menlo Park firefighters turn red stop lights green.  

The two organizations signed of this year to pay for “traffic pre-emption devices,” according to MPFPD’s public records. Twenty-five traffic signals will be enhanced in the upcoming months with what is essentially a remote control for a traffic light. 

Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said that as an emergency vehicle approaches a traffic signal that's red, the traffic pre-emption device will change the light from red to green.

The goal of installing those devices is to reduce the amount of time it takes for firefighters to get to the scene of an emergency.  Fifteen of those 25 signals already have devices on them; those will be modernized, while the other 10 will have new devices attached to them. The ones that will be enhanced are located in between fire stations and the Facebook campus.  The model used by the fire department has a price tag of $7,000 per unit.

“We worked hard together to establish a very progressive approach to identifying safety enhancements,” Schapelhouman said, describing the negotiation that took place between the two organizations.  “The bottom line was, if it made practical sense for the community, Facebook and the fire district, and it was to all three’s best interests and benefit, then we agreed it a was a winner and it went on the list,” he said.

When the  of the company's headquarters, it will pay the fire district an additional $150,000, he said. The City of Menlo Park is in the process of negotiating the terms of that development. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District would like to see an increase in taxes on the new section of the campus to supplement this week's payment, according to the Fire Chief. 

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District services Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto, and sections of unincorporated Menlo Park. 

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