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AMADOR COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICTS

Authority for Review

Grand Jury Jurisdiction provided by Penal Code Section 925.

Background

Periodic review of special districts.

Method of Review

Interview with Fire Chief of the Amador Fire Protection District
Interview with Fire Chief of the Lockwood Fire District
Interview with County Supervisor assigned to the Amador County Fire Service Task Force
Interview with Battalion Chief of the California Department of Forestry (CDF)
Interview with Fire Chief of the Calaveras County Fire Protection District
Interview with other responsible persons in different fire districts
On-site visits to individual fire stations and the CDF fire station

Findings

In Amador County there are eight fire stations under the command of the Amador County Fire Protection District, four city fire departments and two independent fire districts (Jackson Valley and Lockwood.)

There are automatic and mutual assistance agreements between adjoining districts which insure help if one district needs outside assistance. No uniform agreement is in place as to what compensation the assisting district will receive.

There are different levels of training among districts. All fire districts have the minimum training required. Fire fighting in cities and in wildlands require different training.

Among the districts there is repetition in administration, salaries, insurance, training, and equipment. There is also duplication in service and repair of equipment.

Each fire district provides some level of medical service which accounts for 80% of all calls. All firefighters have some emergency medical training. Most firefighters in the county are volunteers.

The cooperation between agencies at the station level is good, but there are disagreements in upper management over reimbursements and responsibilities. Some fire districts and agencies do not want to lose their independence or share their resources.

No uniform method of funding exists for the different agencies. Some agencies only receive county funds while others receive voted property assessments or state funds. The incorporated cities receive General Fund money. Some districts or agencies are better funded than others.

Some of the fire chiefs indicated that a form of consolidation would be beneficial. There are limited efforts being made to consolidate purchasing of fuel, hoses and insurance for equipment.

An Amador County Fire Service Task Force has been formed. The Task Force is developing a master plan of short and long term goals for operational training, finances, inspection, fire prevention, and code enforcement.

Conclusions

Consolidation of fire districts would save time, money, and resources through shared equipment, equipment repair, and other operations.

There should be expanded efforts to consolidate training and centralize purchasing of insurance and equipment such as fuel, hoses, and clothing.

If more consolidation occurred, additional full-time employees would have to be hired.

Recommendations

That the Amador Fire Protection District have a full-time professional fire chief who is experienced in consolidation and management.

Develop a master plan to consolidate the fire districts to form one well-trained and organized Amador County Fire Protection District.

Implement a plan to share revenue and costs between the fire districts.

Response Required

The Amador County Grand Jury requests the Board of Supervisors respond to this report within 90 days as required by Penal Code Section 933(c).
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