San Miguel Fire District
Photo, left: Fire inspector Natalie Grimes receives recognition for her service
By Paul Kruze
January 15, 2015 (Spring Valley)--Following a campaign promise which rode a trio of new directors into office on the San Miguel Fire District Board last November, board member Theresa McKenna has introduced a proposal to return control of the agency to local management control. The district currently has a partnership with CAL FIRE to manage firefighting services that was adopted due to an earlier budget shortfall.
McKenna proposed that an ad hoc committee be formed to study the feasibility of the management change at the agency’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday evening, January 14th.
STATE COMPLETES INVESTIGATION OF SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT OVER FUNDING DISCREPANCIES: LOCAL TAXPAYERS TO FOOT BILL
By Miriam Raftery
January 7, 2015 (Spring Valley) – The State Controller’s Office has issued its final review report on the San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District’s administrative and internal accounting controls.
“Our review did not identify any significant deficiencies with the District’s administrative and internal accounting controls,” the report states. None-the-less, the report indicates the state plans to charge the district for the cost of the investigation. report indicates the state launched the investigation because it had “reason to believe that the Annual Report of Financial Transactions submitted by the District is misstated, incomplete, or incorrect.”
By Paul Kruze
December 16, 2014 (Spring Valley) -- Promising a heightened attention to transparency and public involvement in its decisions and special attention to the area around the community of Crest, three newly-elected members of the San Miguel Fire District, Mike Vacio, Jim Ek, and Theresa McKenna, were sworn into office by El Cajon Superior Court Presiding Judge, Laura Halgren at last Wednesday’s regularly scheduled monthly board meeting. The three replaced previously elected members, Richard Augustine, Chris Winter, and Jeffrey Lyle Nelson, who lost their bids to serve a second four-year term in the November General Election. The board positions held by William Kiel, Dave Rickards, Karrie Johnston, and Dan McMillan are slated for re-election in 2016.
East County News Service
November 5, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- The biggest political upset in East County this electionappears to have taken place in the San Miguel Fire District, where a slate of challengers has won three seats on the board, ousting incumbents.
On top with 100% of precincts counted Mike Vacio, Jim Ek and Theresa McKenna with 20.16%, 18.25% and 16.26% of the vote.
By Miriam Raftery
October 22, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—CAL FIRE Tony Mecham, head of the County Fire Authority, has contacted East County Magazine to dispute statements and factual claims made by two candidates running for the San Miguel Fire District Board in their responses to our candidate questionnaire.
Chief Mecham states that he is not endorsing any candidate but adds, “There are numerous statements that are factually false.”
Updated October 22, 2014 - CAL FIRE Chief Tony Meacham, head of the County Fire Authority, has written to dispute statements made by two candidates in this race, which he says are "factually false." You can read details of the Chief's statements here.
By Nadin Abbott
October 18, 2014 (San Diego)--In 2012, the San Miguel Fire Board voted for CAL FIRE to take over firefighting operations. The board voted unanimously for the five-year contract because the agency was deep in a hole economically and had already closed a fire station. Those in favor argued that this decision would allow the board to continue operations, recover financially, reopen the closed station and keep service at comparable levels. But critics including at least one challenger running for the board have sharply criticized the deal with Cal-Fire, citing loss of local control and potential delays in response times, also faulting other board actions.
East County Magazine e-mailed questions to all candidates, including inquiries about the CAL FIRE arrangement and a letter the district received from the State Comptroller raising questions over the board’s finances.
The six candidates include two incumbents (Chris Winter and Rick Augustine) seeking reelection and four challengers. Three of the challengers are running together as a slate (Theresa McKenna, Jim Ek, and Mike Vacio). The other challenger is Cindy Croucher. Bios for incumbents Winter and Augustine are available on the San Miguel Fire district website.
Three candidates, challengers Theresa McKenna and Jim Ek, along with incumbent Chris Winter, have responded. Below are the questions, and their answers, posted in full in the order received.
October 10, 2014 (Spring Valley)---The San Diego Gas and Electric Company and Farmers Insurance donated a total of $14,000 to purchase Ice Machines for 5 of the Fire Stations within the San Miguel Fire District. The generation of a large supply of ice is a simple but effective tool in keeping Firefighters hydrated and cooler.
SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT AND CAL FIRE SEEKING VOLUNTEERS FOR WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS AND PREVENTION CAMPAIGN MAY 25
May 22, 2013 (Spring Valley) – Maybe becoming a volunteer Firefighter is a bit much, but please consider being a volunteer “Fire Preventer.”
The San Miguel Fire District in cooperation with its partner CAL FIRE, is ramping up its “Before the Threat, Are You Ready” preparedness and prevention campaign. This massive public education effort provides critical preparedness information with an old- fashioned door-to-door contact.
Again this year they are hoping teams of community volunteers join CAL FIRE Firefighters in a door-to-door campaign in the Districts high hazard urban interface areas. Two major fires in four years have shown all of us the need to be prepared and to create defensible space, to have an evacuation plan, and have the supplies necessary to take care of your families for up to a week.
By Janis Mork
October 4, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) -- The cash-strapped San Miguel Fire District recently voted to outsource firefighting services to Cal-Fire. This election season, six candidates are running for four seats on the District’s board, which has taken heat from labor and the public over tough decisions made. ECM has contacted all candidates for information on their candidacies. Below, we profile business/college educator Dan McMillan. Other candidates are retiree Randy Dibb, retired civil engineer William A. Kiel, civil engineer John Revels, fire captain/paramedic David Rickards, and incumbent board member Karrie Johnston Scully. View a map of the district: http://www.smgfire.org/district-map.
By Paul Kruze
July 13, 2012 (Spring Valley)--By a unanimous vote by the board of the San Miguel Fire District (SMFD) and a badge pinned on his chest, then sealed with a kiss by his wife, former Division Chief Gary D. Croucher was installed as the District’s newest fire chief on Wednesday evening at the board meeting.
View a video clip of the appointment: http://vimeo.com/45691689
April 16, 2012 (Rancho San Diego) – Firefighters with San Miguel Fire District dispatched units to a fully engulfed house fire in the 1800 Block of Vista Grande at 4:40 p.m. today. On arrival, crews witnessed large flames shooting out of all of the home’s front windows, said Leonard Villareal, public information officer for San Miguel Fire.
April 16, 2012 (Dehesa) – San Miguel Fire District’s Engine 23 and its three person crew was the first on the scene of a chimney fire in a home on the 1200 block of Avenida Elisa on April 15 at 10:46 p.m. The fire, which began in the chimney box, quickly moved to the attic. Containing the blaze was problematic because the flames burning in the attic compromised the strength of the roof, according to Leonard Villarreal with the District. The blaze was knocked down in approximately 30 minutes.
Sycuan may offer hope for restoring service in Dehesa; Mount Helix could be next to lose fire services
By Miriam Raftery
October 29, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Dehesa residents are losing staffing for their fire engine and being left with only a bare-bones medical crew starting in November. Moreover, a District representative told ECM, Mount Helix could be the next community to lose fire protection if the San Miguel Fire District’s financial situation does not improve.
At a community meeting of concerned Dehesa residents Thursday night, participants put forth a variety of concerns—but also constructive suggestions for pitching in to help the district raise funds.
SCORCHED: SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD VOTES TO ELIMINATE FIRE PROTECTION AT DEHESA STATION, IMPOSE STEEP CUTS TO FIREFIGHTERS’ BENEFITS
By Miriam Raftery
“This is a shame and an embarrassment.” – La Mesa Councilman David Allen, former San Miguel Firefighter
“These are wickedly difficult decisions…decisions no fire chief wants to have to make.” – Chief August Ghio
Updated October 28, 2011; originally published October 27, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Over objections of an overflow crowd of more than 100 community members and firefighters, the San Miguel Fire (SMF) District board voted last night to leave only a two-man medical crew at its rural Dehesa station.
Labor dispute also heats up; Oct. 26 and 27 meetings set as budget woes deepen
By Miriam Raftery
October 20, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Residents in the Dehesa area of unincorporated El Cajon will be losing a firefighting structure engine and a wildland fire engine due starting November 1.
In addition, a three-man engine will be replaced by a two-man paramedic crew—a situation that the San Miguel Firefighters Association (SMFA) contends on its website is “unsafe” but that the District contends is necessary due to dwindling property tax revenues that fund firefighting services.
June 6, 2011 (El Cajon) -- Just before 10:00 a.m. this morning Heartland Fire & Rescue, serving the City of El Cajon, responded to reports of an apartment fire at 525 East Camden Avenue in El Cajon. As crews arrived smoke was coming from a second floor apartment. El Cajon fire crews, assisted by firefighters from the San Miguel Fire District, had the fire knocked down in about ten minutes. Quick action kept the fire from reaching neighboring apartment units. The exact cause of the fire is still being investigated, but it appears to have started in or around the clothes dryer area located in the middle of the apartment.
Damage has been estimated at $15,000 to the apartment and its contents. There was some smoke damage to an adjoining apartment. The family was at home at the time of the fire and were able to escape safely. The family will be staying with relatives. There were no injuries reported.
May 17, 2011 (Casa De Oro) -- A fast and effective attack allowed San Miguel firefighters to extinguish a fire that started in the kitchen of an upstairs apartment unit in the Casa De Oro area across the street from Spring Valley Middle School. Fire damage was confined to that single unit.
Crews were called to the Helix Square Apartments on the 3800 block of Conrad Drive at 11:21 a.m., Monday. The fire was considered knocked down ten minutes later. Inside the residence at the time of the fire was one adult male who evacuated the upstairs apartment, but was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation. He was later transported to Grossmont Hospital.
By Miriam Raftery
October 21, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Seven candidates, including two incumbents, are engaged in a heated contest for three seats on the San Miguel Fire District Board. Three are backed by the firefighters’ union, though not all are firefighters. Four others have formed an alliance to oppose the union-backed candidates; ironically that alliance includes a retired firefighter on the board. The eighth candidate is running independently.
Winners will tackle a budget deficit fueled by foreclosures and falling property tax revenues. Voters defeated a ballot measure that would have increased funding and recently San Miguel shut down an engine company. So the board faces tough decisions.
By Miriam Raftery
Photos by Leonard Villareal
October 6, 2009 (El Cajon) -- Dale Wojczynski, owner of a home destroyed by fire on September 30, had been fined $10,000 by the County for ignoring numerous orders to clean up the property. A criminal case has been filed and will be heard on October 29.
San Miguel Fire District firefighters battled the two-story house fire in the Granite Hills area of unincorporated El Cajon. Firefighters prevented the blaze from spreading to neighboring homes, but could not save the home due to a large amount of flammable debris. A 9-1-1 call was made by a resident at 6:07 a.m. Two people inside the home, located on the 2100 block of Valley View Blvd, both got out safely. Residents told fire investigators there were no smoke alarms in the home, but fortunately a resident was awakened by the alarm clock function of her cell phone.
On September 12, 2009, the San Miguel Fire District will host our 4th Annual “Safe and Sound” Fire Expo. The event will be held at the Rancho San Diego Towne Center/YMCA, 2891 Jamacha Rd. El Cajon 92019, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
“Our community has always faced significant fire dangers, but now with recent budget cuts, our dangers are greater than ever. The need to help educate our residents has also become even greater,” a press release issued by San Miguel Fire District stated. The 2009 Fire Expo will share a variety of safety messages to help and encourage residents to better protect themselves, their families, and their homes.