Julian

COUNTY SAYS JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIREFIGHTERS CAN SERVE AS VOLUNTEERS ALONGSIDE CAL-FIRE IF THEY SIGN UP BY APRIL 15: BUT NOBODY TOLD JULIAN’S FIRE CHIEF

 

Update April 4, 2019 -- Alex Bell, public information officer for San Diego, has clarified that on March 29, the same day our story below ran, a letter was sent to JFCPD Chief Van Bibber and the JCFPD board president via email and certified mail notifying him of volunteer opportunities. In addition a flyer was provided to them for distribution to their volunteers. "Since Monday, 8 Julian firefighters have applied to the County Fire Authority program," Bell told ECM.

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 29, 2019 (Julian) – Measure A, the ballot initiative to abolish the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) and put the San Diego County Fire Authority/CAL FIRE in charge of emergency services, appears to have passed by a slim 114 vote margin, 54% to 46%, according to the Registrar of Voters though the results won’t be certified until April 4.

The County issued a press release today headlined “Julian joins the County Fire Authority.”  The County states this will bring “full-time professional firefighting and paramedic service to the popular East County tourist destinations.”

“Now that voters in Julian have spoken, it is my hope that the entire community will come together and rally around our common goal to bolster fire protection and other emergency services in the area,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob, who represents the area. The JCFPD is San Diego County's last all-volunteer firefighting department.

But now the County appears to have offered an olive branch to the 60 volunteers in the JCFPD with an opportunity to continue to serve-yet the County failed to inform the JCFPD's Chief or others about that opportunity and a looming deadline.

JULIAN VOTES TO ABOLISH THE JULIAN CUYAMACA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Miriam Raftery, Editor, contributed to this report

Update March 27, 2019: The margin has narrowed slightly but Measure A still leads by 114 votes and a 7.96% margin: yes 53.98%, no 46.02%

March 19, 2019 (Julian) – The County’s last all-volunteer fire department may soon be history. With 1,294 ballots counted tonight, Measure A is passing with 55.56%, the Registrar of Voters reports.

The measure would affirm a decision made last September by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to abolish the 35-year-old Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District. Fire and ambulance services would be shifted entirely to the County Fire Authority, under the direction of Cal-Fire.

The Registrar’s office will continue to accept ballots until Friday, if postmarked by today. It is unclear how many ballots mailed out have not yet been returned, or whether there could be enough to make up the 145-vote gap (719 to 575).

Cal-Fire firefighters’ union local #2881 posted on Facebook tonight, “Thank you to the Citizens of Julian and Cuyamaca for the opportunity to serve them.” (photo, left)

For backers of the JCFPD who have fought hard to keep their volunteer firefighters, however, the outcome sparked strong emotions.

RESPONSE TO EDITORIAL ON MEASURE A FROM CAL-FIRE FIREFIGHTERS LOCAL 2881 VICE-PRESIDENT PATRICK WALKER

By William T. Everett, Board Member, Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District

March 14, 2019 (Julian) -- Union Vice-President Patrick Walker believes that the Julian Cuyamaca "volunteer fire station is inefficient and unable to provide adequate fire and life safety services in comparison to full time." He goes on to tout his experience and career as the reason he is credible. Yet, numerous Fire Chiefs and career firefighters throughout California, with far more experience than Walker, strongly disagree with his conclusion. What is the difference between Walker and the others? It is simple. Walker works for the Cal-Fire union and his primary responsibility is to promote the union and help create more union jobs. 

It appears that Walker's primary argument in favor of dissolving the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District is his claim that full-time firefighters are better for the community than part-time (i.e., volunteers). What Mr. Walker either doesn't know or doesn't want the public to know is that the Julian fire station is now staffed full-time with 60  firefighters (volunteers) that are as highly trained and qualified as any "professional" firefighters in the United States.

READER’S EDITORIAL: MEASURE A AND THE FUTURE OF FIRE SERVICES IN JULIAN AND CUYAMACA

By Patrick Walker, Vice President, CAL FIRE Firefighters Local #2881 – San Diego District

"It is my belief that the volunteer only fire station is inefficient and unable to provide adequate fire and life safety services in comparison to full time."

March 12, 2019 (Julian-Cuyamaca) -- I want to start by clarifying my comments within this editorial are not representative of CAL FIRE, but of my position as the 10th District Vice President within CAL FIRE Firefighters Local #2881, the labor organization that represents the Professional Firefighters of CAL FIRE in San Diego County. 

I will begin with information about my Fire Department and Labor background, as I believe in absolute transparency.  At 16 years old I began as a Fire Explorer with the San Pasqual Fire Department as well as the Ramona Fire Department.  I graduated High School in Ramona, went into the US Army and upon return became a firefighter with CAL FIRE in 1997.  I have worked in the counties of:  San Diego, Riverside, Santa Clara, Amador and El Dorado in my 20-year employment with CAL FIRE.  I have held the ranks for Volunteer Firefighter, Volunteer Fire Engine Operator, Volunteer Fire Captain, and with CAL FIRE I have worked as Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Engineer, Fire Captain and currently hold the rank of Battalion Chief working in South San Diego County.  I am married with children and reside in the City of San Diego.

EMERGENCY CLOSURE OF STATE ROUTE 78 FROM WYNOLA ROAD TO GREAT OVERLAND STAGE ROUTE (S-2) FOR ROCK SCALING

If you plan to go view wildflowers in the desert this weekend, be sure to read this and plan an alternate route.

March 8, 2019 (Julian)-- Caltrans crews are preparing to close a six-mile segment of State Route 78 (SR-78) from Wynola Road just east of Julian to Great Southern Overland Stage Route (S-2) later this afternoon for rock scaling activities, according to Caltrans. The emergency closure may extend through the weekend as needed to ensure that the highway slopes are stable.

Residents will be allowed access through the closures as safe to do so.

Motorists on eastbound SR-78 from Ramona toward Banner grade will be detoured onto northbound SR-79 at Santa Ysabel, then directed to turn right onto San Felipe Road (S-2), to eastbound SR-78 towards Ocotillo Wells.

Motorists on westbound SR-78, east of the closure, will be detoured to turn right onto San Felipe Road (S-2) to southbound SR-79, to Santa Ysabel to westbound or eastbound SR-78.

SNOW, ICE SHUTS DOWN I-8 AT ALPINE; SNOW BLANKETS MOUNTAIN AREAS

 

Update 10:38 a.m.  -- CHP is now escorting vehicles on I-8 between Alpine and the county line. Expect delays.

February 22, 2019 (San Diego's East County) -- East County's mountain areas look like winter wonderlands, with two feet of snow atop Mt. Laguna and several inches or more in Julian (photo, left, webcam in downtown Julian). 

But winter conditions have wreaked havoc with motorists. After many vehicles incuding a semi-truck and a school bu skidded on icy conditions along Interstate 8, authorities shut down I-8 from Alpine to the County line last night. It remains closed this morning, though the CHP has been escorting stranded motorist through the area. 

CAL FIRE SAYS SNOWED-IN FIRE ENGINE POST WAS A HOAX



Update Feb. 22, 2019 10:26 a.m.  This morning the Julian Times posted a photo on its Facebook page showing Cal Fire/CFA engines purportedly stuck in snow. Scroll down for the image. 

In addition, Times of San Diego forwarded this aerial video provided by a Julian resident showing Cal Fire engines in heavy snow at the station this morning:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1C6U3pTQIY3W7UJd2Jd6EC-wHghTwzEqp/view?fbclid=IwAR2CcW9R9b5rPvicADyqPXU_XtYJ4DhBe87yicG5lihg12g-g7VLkoMti44

 



By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Rachel Goddard,, JCFPD volunteers clear a tree blocking a snowy road.

February 22, 2019 (Julian) -- With up to two feet of snow blanketing the mountains of East County last night, a post circulating on social media and sent to ECM last night contained a screenshot that appeared to be a screen shot from a County Fire Authority social media page. The post stated that  its Cal Fire Station 51 in Julian and a fire engine "is unable to respond to calls and is out of service due to the growing snow conditions." (See screenshot below.)

But this morning, Cal Fire Deputy Chief Nick Schuler told ECM that the image and its message was "false" and not an official Cal Fire page. He said Cal Fire engines were in operation responding to calls at the time. Schuler blamed advocates of a contentious ballot initiative to keep the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District independent for circulating what he states was a hoax. ECM has requested call logs for the evening from both agencies.

Volunteer firefighters with the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District sent ECM a photo last night demonstrating a can-do spirit as they continued to serve their community during the emergency conditions, responding to calls for medical assistance and removing a downed tree. (Photo, left, courtey of the JCFPD.)

JCFPD Chief Mike Van Bibber told ECM today that he is confident the post did not originate with his firefighters. He added that one of his team owns a backhoe that was used to keep the JCFPD station clear for engines' access.

After we received Schuler's statement, this morning the Julian Times posted this photo on their Facebook page which appears to show two CFA engines temporarily blocked in by snow:

AS VOTERS PREPARE TO CAST BALLOTS ON FUTURE OF JULIAN AREA'S FIRE DEPARTMENT, COUNTY ANNOUNCES FULL STAFFING OF RANCHITA FIRE STATION

By Miriam Raftery

February 21, 2019 (Ranchita) – For years, residents of Ranchita, a small town between Borrego Springs and Julian, have complained about prolonged periods of time when their fire station was unstaffed, leaving their community without rapid response to medical emergencies and fires. 

But now, just as area residents prepare to go to the polls in March to vote on a ballot initiative to determine the fate of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Department, the County Fire Authority and Cal Fire have announced that they have upgraded staffing at the Ranchita Fire Station to permanent full-time staffing and are in the process of boosting paramedic services.  

JULIAN FIREFIGHTERS HOST SPAGHETTI DINNER FOR COMMUNITY, COLLECT FOOD DONATIONS FOR THE HUNGRY

“This is your house.” -- Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Editor Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report

January 24, 2019 (Julian) –“We’re rising from the ashes and we will emerge like the Phoenix, even better than before we were,” Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber told a crowd of some 75 citizens at a spaghetti dinner held Sunday in the main stationhouse on Highway79.

The mood was buoyant, despite storm clouds still looming over the district. A special election to save the county’s last volunteer fire department is slated for March, after residents gathered enough signatures to put the decision on the ballot and temporarily block takeover by the County Fire Department run by Cal-Fire.

JULIAN FIREFIGHTERS HOST SPAGHETTI DINNER TO FILL “BLESSING BOX”

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 19, 2019 (Julian) – The community is invited to a spaghetti dinner hosted by the Julian Cuyamaca Firefighters Association on Sunday, January 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Bring a non-perishable food item to share for the Julian Blessing Box, a free food pantry that helps people in need.

CAL FIRE/COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY ORDERS REMOVAL OF PROTECTIVE GEAR FROM JULIAN-CUYAMACA VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS

CAL FIRE/County Fire Authority moves out of JCFPD fire station, returns to former office in Julian.

New JCFPD board puts Chief Van Bibber back in charge; radio service also restored for volunteer firefighters.

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

VIDEO of December 13 JCFPD Board Meeting

December 28, 2018 (Julian)--The knockdown, drag-out fight between CAL FIRE and the San Diego County Fire Authority versus the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) went another round last week when County Supervisors voted to hold a special election in Julian this spring.

Julian citizens gathered enough signatures to put the fate of the JCFPD to a direct special election vote on Mar. 19, 2019. But Supervisors’ decision to confirm the people’s right to vote on saving the county’s last volunteer fire district from a county takeover has done little to heal the smarting.

Cal OSHA was called out on Nov. 30 to Julian Fire Station 56 to enforce an order by County Fire Authority Chief Jeremi Roesler requiring that all JCFPD firefighter Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) be inspected and inventoried. He unilaterally directed that all firefighter “turnouts” or PPE gloves, jackets, helmets – be inspected and inventoried for official reasons unknown to him. Each set of PPE or “turnouts” is worth about $4,000 dollars.

Instead of notifying the JCFPD or volunteer firefighters beforehand of the inspection, the search was conducted unannounced and numerous pieces of gear were removed from service. The Sheriff was notified when firefighters’ personal property was allegedly taken.

PRIVATE JULIAN PATIENT DATA BREACHED AMID 11-DAY HARD DRIVE LOSS, FIRE OFFICIALS FEAR

 

Update December 26, 2018 -- Patient data was not on the missing hard drive, long-time Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District Chief Mike Van Bibber has informed EMC. Patients' information was on a county server instead.

By Ken Stone

Reprinted with permission by Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  photo taken Tuesday after backup hard drive was discovered missing. Photo via Brian Kramer

December 12, 2018 (Julian) - Julian fire district officials and local authorities are looking into the possible theft of private medical information and employee records from a backup hard drive.

According to Julian-Cuyamaca fire board member Brian Kramer, the external hard drive with possibly years of data went missing Dec. 1 from a locked room at the Julian fire station on state Route 79.

FIVE SCHOOL DISTRICTS CLOSE WEDNESDAY DUE TO POWER OUTAGES

 

Update Nov. 13: Jamul-Dulzura has been added to the list of school districts closed today.

East County News Service

November 12, 2018 (San Diego's East County) -- Four East County school districts will be closed tomorrow because San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) has activated a public safety power shutoff in some rural areas of the County. The following districts' schools wil be closed: 

  • Jamul Dulzura Union School District
  • Julian Union School District
  • Julian Union High School District
  • Mountain Empire Unified School District
  • Spencer Valley School District

MEASURE TO KEEP JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT INDEPENDENT QUALIFIES FOR FUTURE BALLOT, BUT FIRE FEE HIKE FAILS

By Miriam Raftery

November 9, 2018 (Julian) – This week brought good news and bad news for Julian residents fighting to halt a county takeover of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District and save the county’s last all-volunteer fire department.

A citizens’ protest petition seeking to reverse the vote by the Local Agency Formation Agency (LAFCO) to dissolve the fire district obtained enough signatures to qualify for a future ballot, the Registrar of Voters informed advocates this week.  That’s a tough hurdle, since the requirement is more than 50% of property owners in the district. 

“We did it! We are the only ones in the history of LAFCO to ever get this far!” Lori Foss, a supporter of the petition and survivor of the Cedar and Witch fires, stated in an email to East County Magazine on Election Day.

FATE OF VOTE ON JULIAN VOLUNTEER FIRE FORCE AWAITS PETITION SIGNATURE COUNT

 

 

By Ken Stone 

Reprinted with permission from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Julian Volunteer Fire Department advocate Lori Foss turns in petition signatures at LAFCO hearing. Photo by Ken Stone

October 17, 2018 (Julian) - Like a cliffhanger election, it will take a week or two for Julian residents to learn if they have a chance at saving their last-in-the-county volunteer fire department.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEWS: JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE CHIEF, PARAMEDIC AND FIRE SURVIVOR SPEAK OUT TO SAVE THEIR FIRE DEPARTMENT

 

"Since the inception of the San Diego County Fire Department in 2008, this county has lost over 400 volunteer firefighters, boots on the ground that were guarding their homefront...That's sad." -- JCFPD Battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber

“Ranchita in the month of June this year was covered six days. That’s all.” – Karen Kiefer, JCFPD firefighter-paramedic, on services after the County Fire Authority began its takeover of the volunteer department  June 1st.

"They came and found us...it was dark, the embers were everywhere...the roof was on fire," Lori Foss says of JCFPD volunteer firefighters who saved her life and her home during the 2007 Witch Fire

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District firefighter-paramedic Karen Kiefer and Chief Mike Van Bibber

 

October 11, 2018 (Julian) – The battle to save the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District, the last volunteer fire district in San Diego County, has reached a heated pitch. Residents are gathering signatures seeking to block the takeover by the County Fire Authority approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission in September, before an October 16th public protest meeting with LAFCO.

On our radio show on KNSJ, East County Magazine interviewed the JCFPD battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber, along with firefighter-paramedic and former emergency medical services director Karen Kiefer, a well as Lori Foss, who lost her home in the 2003 Cedar Fire and had her home and family saved in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire by Julian’s volunteer firefighters. They believe that the takeover will leave Julian and surrounding areas less safe due to longer response times by engines coming from farther away, with no “home team” to respond quickly to medical emergencies, car accidents or structure fires.  Click the audio link to hear the full interview, or scroll down to read highlights.

Audio: 

Interview with JCFPD Chief Mike Van Bibber, firefighter-paramedic Karen Kiefer and fire survivor Lori Foss

JULIAN SCRAPS APPLE DAYS FESTIVAL, REPLACES WIITH HARVEST CELEBRATIONS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery, Editor, East County Magazine

September 15, 2018 (Julian) – Is Julian losing its roots?  The historic gold rush town has dropped its Apple Days, a tradition dating back more than a century, replacing it with a season of other harvest celebrations.

LAFCO VOTES TO END JULIAN VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT., INVITES TOWN TO SAVE IT

 

By Ken Stone

Reprinted by Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Devi Ketelsen, 7, reads statement to LAFCO board while being held by mother Jamie. Photo by Ken Stone

September 11, 2018 (Julian) - The only way to save Julian’s last-in-the-county volunteer fire department is to order it destroyed, LAFCO board members declared Monday.

By a 7-0 vote, the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission accepted staff advice to dissolve the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District.

JULIAN RESIDENTS AGAINST COUNTY TAKEOVER OF FIRE SERVICES WIN VICTORY IN COURT, BUT SETBACK AT LAFCO HEARING

 

 

Battle to save the county's last volunteer fire district now hinges on a protest process that could give voters the final say

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Miriam Raftery, Editor, also contributed to this report.

 

Photo:  Battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber, Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District

September 11, 2018 (Julian) -- A group of Julian area residents fighting fire axes-and-hoses against a county takeover of fire and medical first responder services won a firm victory last Thursday in Superior Court. Judge Timothy Taylor ruled to allow a ballot measure to fund future operations for the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD).

Backers of the initiative hoped the ruling would curtail the County of San Diego’s efforts to terminate the JCFPD, the region’s last all-volunteer fire department, and shift fire and ambulance services to the County Fire Authority (CFA) in conjunction with Cal Fire.

But despite Judge Taylor’s ruling, yesterday the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted 7-0 to dissolve the district. Residents could still block the takeover through a protest process that’s now been triggered.  Determined opponents of the takeover are gearing up for the fight, arguing that eliminating volunteer firefighters who live in the community will make the area less safe, not safer has had been promised by the CFA.

JULIAN GRAPE STOMP FESTA SEPT. 1

 

East County News Service

August 29, 2018 (Julian) -- The Julian Grape Stomp Festa invites you to kick off your shoes and squish grapes beneath your feet at the 22nd annual event on September 1st from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Menghini Winery in Julian. Taste wines from multiple wineries as well as food and drinks from a variety of local establishments.

A SIP OF JULIAN JULY 28 FEATURES SPIRITED TASTES

 

 

East County news Service

July 12, 2018 (Julian) -- On Saturday, July 28th, 2018, the Julian Chamber of Commerce is co-hosting the 4th Annual ‘Sip of Julian’. 

Proof that Julian isn’t about apples and apple pies, the sip features growers and producers of wine, craft beer, mead, craft cocktails, and hard cider, offering up a sampling of their delicious hand-crafted specialties. There will also be bites of gourmet foods to savor.

A JEWEL IN THE WILDERNESS: WILLIAM HEISE COUNTY PARK

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures: our guide to unique lodging and adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photos by Miriam Raftery and Paul Kruze

 June 24, 2018 (Julian) -- Nestled at the end of a series of winding roads shaded by pines and oak trees minutes from downtown Julian is William Heise County Park, a comfortable getaway just over an hour away from the bustle of downtown San Diego.  This park is the jewel of the San Diego County Park system in our inland region.

10TH ANNIVERSARY OF COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY GETS CHILLY JULIAN RECEPTION

 

By Ken Stone, originally published at Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

June 18, 2018 (Julian) - Julian residents Lori Foss and Patricia Van Natta stood quietly in a heating-up helicopter hangar Thursday, watching their East County supervisor and Cal Fire chief boast of backcountry fire readiness.

JULIAN’S STAR-SPANGLED JULY 4TH PARADE

 

East County News Service

June 14, 2018 (Julian) -- This year Julian’s 4th of July parade has the theme, “Julian’s Star Spangled 4th,” a salute to the men and women who made our country great, both domestically and militarily.

For more than twenty years, Julian residents, their friends and parade lovers from all over have lined up at on the town’s main street to wave their flags, cheer the marching bands, salute the Marine Color Guard, and carry a giant American Flag down the thoroughfare. Bands include a bag pipe band, Dixieland jazz, mariachi music and the Gold Drum and Bugle Corps.

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