By Janis Mork
October 10, 2012 (Spring Valley)- Fire captain/paramedic Dave Rickards hopes to get re-elected to the San Miguel Fire Board because “I care about the community I want the best fire protection in the community I live in.” The three-term incumbent is a district resident since 1990, spent 29 years in the fire service in El Cajon, and currently sits on the Heartland Communications Commission. He is also the Districts’ representative Finance Committee.” He adds, “We’re all training each other and we all have agreements that help each other out.”
He is also a U.S. Navy vet, a USS Midway volunteer, and a private pilot. He is currently a Company Engines Officer in the Fletcher Hills Community of El Cajon.
The district has had “extreme budget challenges over the last four-five years,” he acknowledges, but adds, “We’ve handled it effectively. We’ve had a balanced budget. And we’ve kept fire trucks going.”
Asked about improving safety of East County residents from fires, he replied, “Right now, we’re fully staffed with the engines qualified in fire protection and paramedics. Even with budget shortfalls, we’re still able to provide services. We have outside mutual aid that can help us out. Other communities can come into San Miguel. too.”
He has a positive view on the outsourcing of services to Cal Fire. “The Cal Fire system allows us to calculate our costs. This is the only viable option that came forward to the board. It’s reasonable. We still own the district. There are the same employees, but in the Cal Fire uniforms. We could control the budget and have long-term healthcare,” he said. “I’ve personally worked alongside Cal Fire. We can control costs, and be able to provide services based on the community’s demands. The district is moving forward.” Other benefits include long-term district fiscal stability, managing costs by ability to adjust personnel/positions within contract, and reducing the cost of worker’s compensation, he believes.
As for the budget, he says, “We’ve already cut. We’ve downsized the budget, looked at all employee costs and reduced benefits. We’ve taken paid benefits down.”
He wants readers to know that, “I still care about the district. I value fire service. I want to see what’s best in the community. As a board, we’ve gone to all these analogies from the community. We’re struggling all the time to provide services at the quickest time possible to the community.”
He has been married to a kindergarten teacher, Laurie, for 26 years. Together, they have raised three children. Their oldest son is a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a 2nd Lt. in the Marine Corps, the middle son is a junior at Grossmont College, and the youngest daughter attends Grossmont High.
Other candidates running are retiree Randy Dibb, incumbent Karrie Johnston Scully, retired civil engineer William Kiel, civil engineer John Revels, and businessman/college educator Dan McMillan.
For more information on Rickards, visit: http://www.daverickards.com/Home_Page.html.
View a map of the district: http://www.smgfire.org/district-map.