San Diego fire protection

WHY ARE SO MANY FIRE STATIONS CLOSED—AND WHAT’S BEING DONE BY COUNTY TO BOOST STAFFING?

 

 

A quarter of all rural stations were closed –at the same time—during April

An East County Magazine special investigative report

By Miriam Raftery

July 31, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The County Fire Authority has touted its successes in preventing the May wildfires in North County from destroying thousands of homes despite a county-wide disaster declaration.  Granted, a lot has improved since the devastating 2003 and 2007 firestorms in our region--the worst in California's history. But if fires were to start in East County today, the outcome could be tragic. An East County Magazine investigation raises serious doubts over  inadequate volunteer firefighter staffing and the ability to respond even to routine house fires and medical calls in some rural communities.

Last October,  our investigative report,"Closed for Fire Season" revealed that Boulevard’s fire station was closed for two months during fire season and Jacumba’s station also had some dark days- -including one when a resident died of a medical emergency after a delay in emergency services arriving. The County responded by funding emergency staffing and according to Supervisor Jacob’s staff, these two stations remained open every day  for at least several months thereafter, an ECM records check in late April revealed.   

But on July 9, Craig Williams, an information technology provider for the Campo Fire Department, advised ECM that “without any notification to the community leaders."  two days ago Cal Fire “moved the overtime, off-budget, paid Cal Fire firefighters out of Boulevard to Jacumba Hot Springs. Now  Boulevard is stuck with Fire Authority `volunteers’ only, just like Campo.’”

Worse,  a new investigation by ECM reveals that this is the tip of an iceberg--with many stations understaffed and some closed for months. 

SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT MOVES TO ELIMINATE FIRE ENGINES FROM 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.

SUPERVISORS TO DECIDE TUESDAY WHETHER TO MERGE 5 FIRE AGENCIES


Hearing Tuesday, January 25 at 9:30 a.m.

January 24, 2011 (San Diego) -- The County Board of Supervisors will decide tomorrow whether to merge five fire agencies into the San Diego County Fire Authority. A hearing is set for Tuesday, January 25, at 9:30 in the Board Chamber at the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway in downtown San Diego.

 

The County Fire Authority was created in 2008 when the County united a handful of rural fire agencies with a goal of creating a stronger, more efficient agency that will  eventually serve over half of the geographic area in our region, including unincorporated areas throughout San Diego's East County, where the devastating wildfires in 2003 and 2007 began.

GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DONATES $25,000 FOR RURAL FIREFIGHTING SUPPLIES

 

 

August 3, 2010 (San Diego's East County) -- The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) board of directorshas unanimously approved a $25,000 grant to the non-profit San Diego Regional Fire & Emergency Services Foundation.  

 

240 LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE BLAZES IN L.A. AND NORTHERN CALIFORNIA; CAL-FIRE CALLS IN OFF-DUTY FIREFIGHTERS IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery
 

July 31, 2010 (San Diego) – “Countywide, there are approximately 240 firefighters from San Diego at fires in the north,” Cal-Fire battalion chief Nick Schuler told East County Magazine today. That includes the Crown Fire southwest of Palmdale in Los Angeles County, which has scorched 13,918 acres and is 62% contained. In Kern County, another large blaze has charred 1,658 acres and is 85% contained.
 

About 220 of the 240 local firefighters deployed in northern regions are Cal Fire personnel, including 128 inmate firefighters. Cal-Fire employees a total of 500 people in San Diego County, Schuler said.

FILNER INTRODUCES BILL TO SUPPORT WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS

 

 

February 23, 2010 (San Diego) – Congressman Bob Filner (D-San Diego) recently introduced H.R. 4488, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act.

 

“It is about time that we properly recognize our brave federal wildland firefighters and make sure they are on par with other federal firefighters,” Filner said in a newsletter to constituents. “Congress must provide American citizens with the strongest, most cost-effective, and efficient federal wildfire response possible to meet the challenges and complexities of wildfires in the 21st Century.”