By Joe Naiman
The County of San Diego received a $20,000 grant from the state’s Volunteer Fire Assistance program, and county supervisors accepted that grant during their Oct. 11 meeting and appropriated the money to the San Diego County Regional Fire Authority to purchase personal protective equipment.
“Even small steps like this count towards improved fire protection in our region,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob.
The San Diego County Regional Fire Authority was created in 2008 when the supervisors and San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission approved the first phase of a plan to reorganize fire protection and emergency medical services in unincorporated San Diego County. The first phase brought territory not within the boundaries of a public agency but served by a volunteer fire department into the SDCRFA and included the area served by the Intermountain, DeLuz, Ocotillo Wells, Ranchita, Shelter Valley, and Sunshine Summit volunteer fire departments, which kept their autonomy and now work with the professional firefighters serving those areas.
The second phase covered the county service areas providing fire protection and paramedic service to San Pasqual, Boulevard, Campo, Mount Laguna, and Palomar Mountain.
The supervisors’ action regarding fire protection in the unincorporated areas also included a September 2010 authorization for the regional fire agency to pursue grant funding. The agency submitted an application to the Volunteer Fire Assistance program, which is funded by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) and provides funding to organize, train and equip fire departments in rural areas and rural communities.
A rural community is defined as an area with 10,000 or fewer residents, and the Volunteer Fire Assistance program can also provide technical or other assistance in addition to financial support.
On Aug. 3, the regional fire agency learned that a $20,000 grant had been awarded. The grant requires an equal match, and the county will use already-appropriated funding to purchase an additional $20,000 worth of personal protective equipment.