Scribbles from the Field: Intermountain — Putting out fires in the rumor department

By Regina Elling

Between the resignation of Chief Cary “Dusty” Coleman in 2011 from Intermountain Fire-Rescue Department and the station’s economically uncertain future, it’s easy to see how rumors could get started. The many stories about the future of the station aren’t hard to find.

But if you want to know the truth, that’s even easier — just ask Chief Jeremy Christofferson. He worked with Coleman for a year before taking over, and has heard many of the rumors himself. He would love to set the record straight on the station’s current status.

“We may have been knocked a step back, but we’ve since come 10 steps forward,” he says. “We’re in a really good spot.”

Fortunately, one of the biggest and most persistent rumors — that the station at 25858 Highway 78 is losing its land — is pretty easy to dispel.

“This rumor began after we switched insurance carriers,” Christofferson explains. “For whatever reason, the county never received a copy of the new document. When they didn’t get their copy, they sent out a standard form letter about dropping us. Apparently, someone found out about the letter we received from the county, misinterpreted it and started the rumors.”

Of course, by the time the rumors reached full swing, the problem had already been solved.

Intermountain Fire-Rescue Department is in no danger of having its property taken away, according to Chief Jeremy Christofferson. As seen here, the property, located off Highway 78, offers a wealth of terrain for various training activities. Sentinel photo/Regina Elling

“Once we sent the county a copy of the new insurance policy, it was all straightened out. The county actually had no intention of taking our land away, and they were very helpful in getting things straightened out at their end,” he says.

Another rumor Christofferson would like to put out is the story that Intermountain either is, or soon will be, closing its doors because of financial woes.

“Although we did reduce our budget again by another 20 percent — meaning we are operating at 70 percent less than where we were two years ago — we are going to make it,” he says.

He credits the station’s new treasurer, Jamie LeClaire, owner of Diversified Accounting in Ramona, for the positive financial news.

“Since Jamie has come on board a couple of years ago, she has done an amazing job of rectifying the books and finances of the department,” he says. “Although we are operating at a minimal needs budget, we are at a point where there is no immediate threat of having to close our doors.”

Christofferson believes that the fear and uncertainty surrounding the station’s financial situation has led to a lot of conflicting theories regarding their relationship with Cal Fire. Again, he says the truth is pretty straightforward: Intermountain is looking forward to providing service in this area for a long time.

“Cal Fire is contracting as a management team by the county, meaning they are a management team that works with us. We are autonomous to Cal Fire. We have mutual aid and automatic aid agreements to work with them, but we are not part of them,” he says.

The two agencies, however, have mutual respect along with their respective agreements.

“Our relationship with Cal Fire is very strong, and we have great support from them with our training and equipment needs. Overall, the partnership has created a much quicker, more effective response to local emergencies,” he says.

The station has been working on other relationships as well.

“The relationship with our current board of directors is outstanding. Our new board president, Maurice Waters, is great and very supportive,” Christofferson says. “We all communicate with each other and get along so well, it’s just outstanding all the way around.”

Despite current financial concerns, Christofferson says the station is pleased with its progress over the past couple of years.

“With the board being so supportive and the county being helpful, we’ve been able to concentrate on other issues. For example, we’ve been meeting regularly with surrounding emergency service and fire agencies, and working collectively to come up with ideas and solutions to common problems. Our focus is on what needs attention, how to address the issues and supporting each other.”

Intermountain has also taken huge steps toward exchanging ideas with the residents in their service area.

“We are on Facebook (Intermountain Fire & Rescue Dept) and Twitter (@InterMtnFire), so if you want to know what is happening, just sign up. We try to keep our news very up-to-the-minute. And of course we have a website (www.intermountainfire.org),” he says.

“We’re doing great now. We’re in a happy place and looking at a bright future,” Christofferson says. “There are still some bumps in the road, but they aren’t mountains. We just make minor corrections and we’re good.”

Related posts:

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  2. Appreciation Day for Intermountain firefighters
  3. Intermountain Fire seeks board candidates with administrative skills and new ideas
  4. Intermountain elects board
  5. Scribbles from the Field: Taking on Orphan Kids not Child’s Play

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Apr 28 2012. Filed under Columnists, Columns, Scribbles from the Field. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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