The following article was acquired from The Reporter website and was written by Nick Sestanovich.
Grand Jury: Fire protection districts need more funding, resources for fire season
With at least six fires currently burning in California and last year’s LNU Lightning Complex fires still fresh in people’s minds, Solano County residents are on high alert this fire season.
This includes the Solano County Grand Jury, which recently filed a report urging local fire protection districts to take action and ensure this year’s fire season is not more devastating than it was last year, especially in a major drought year.
Solano County has five fire protection districts — Cordelia, Dixon, Montezuma, Suisun, and Vacaville — which are standalone departments separate from local governments which provide fire protection, suppression, and emergency medical services, particularly in unincorporated areas.
The Grand Jury also cited a report by Folsom-based consultant Citygate Associates, which Solano County LAFCO contracted in 2019 to analyze the standards, fiscal and governance options, and deployment of the four FPDs.
The Citygate report found that none of the four agencies had the minimum number of personnel to provide adequate response services, individual districts were at risk of single points of failure if they lost career personnel or highly responsive volunteers, and that the most viable option was a merged or consolidated FPD with the goal of moving toward a countywide FPD in the future.
John Vasquez, chair of the Board of Supervisors, said the report was accurate and touched upon issues that he and fellow county Supervisor Jim Spring have been working on for more than a decade.
Vasquez said one of the roadblocks is that the FPDs are independent.
“It takes an entity to want to work with another entity wanting to work with the county,” he said.
Vasquez said Cordelia and Vacaville appear to be on board with starting the process of looking into reorganization, and the Board of Supervisors discussed the possibility of consolidating the two at its June 22 meeting. By next year, he and Spering hope to have the matter placed on a ballot for the June or November elections.