LAFCO activates regional fire authority
It’s official. The County of San Diego is now providing structural fire protection and emergency medical services to 921,514 acres of unincorporated territory. Included is the Intermountain Volunteer Fire-Rescue Department that covers 125 square miles east and northeast of Ramona, staffing a fire station 24/7 with a volunteer staff of trained firefighters and medical response technicians.
The action was formalized Nov. 19 by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and covers a major portion of the county that was devastated by the wildfires of 2003 and 2007.
“The San Diego County Regional Fire Authority is now in full force and effect,” said LAFCO Executive Officer Michael Ott. “This marks the culmination of five years of diligent and collaborative work by LAFCO, public safety officials, policy makers and members of the public.”
The regional fire authority is organized under County Service Area No. 135, a dependent district governed by the five-member San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Structural fire protection and emergency medical services will be funded from the county general fund.
“Activating the fire protection powers for CSA 135 was an essential component of the county’s decision last June to invest $15.5 million annually in the fire enhancement program, which will provide stronger and better coordinated services to over 50 fire stations in the most fire prone areas of the region,” said District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob, vice chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
Jacob is the chairwoman of the Task Force on Fire Protection and EMS and a member of LAFCO.
A fire warden job will be established to provide administrative support to the new entity. The fire warden will assist in processing discretionary planning permits to ensure fire code compliance, help in updating fire codes and provide administrative oversight for contracts with fire protection and emergency service providers.
“LAFCO’s action is historic and will benefit generations to come through regionalizing emergency services,” said LAFCO Chairman Andy Vanderlaan.
Vanderlaan came to San Diego County in 1976 as the fire chief of the North County Fire Protection District and retired in 1996. He was president of the California Fire Chiefs Association and a member of the Governor’s Proposition 172 Public Safety Committee.
San Diego LAFCO is a state-mandated agency responsible for reviewing and approving jurisdictional changes such as annexations, consolidations and formation of new agencies. It was voted the most effective commission in the State of California in 1998, 2002 and 2004.
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