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NC Fire expects 13 percent growth by 2010


Last updated 9/13/2007 at Noon

The North County Fire Protection District (NCFPD) has released its annual needs and expenditures assessment for fire safety requirements in Fallbrook, Bonsall and Rainbow.

In a letter to the county Office of Emergency services that reviews and approves the use of fire mitigation fees, Fire Marshal Sid Morel provides SANDAG data which states the district expects a 13-percent increase in overall growth by 2010 and another 13-percent jump by 2020. In the last 20 years population increases and their inherent activities – such as traffic, business growth and housing development – have increased fire service requirements and expanded its call volumes. From 1990 to 2006, annual call volume increased from 2,758 to 4,107.

Looking to the future, Deputy Chief Charles Glasgow says the district is preparing a new facilities plan that uses sophisticated computerized technology to map calls based on their location. From data compiled over the past year, NCFPD will be able to determine if their stations are in the right place, if their operational needs are sufficient and what costs they can expect to refine services. For example, the data might show an existing fire station would be more useful located in a different area. Forecasting future call volume is also a factor.

Glasgow says when the housing development east of I-15 reaches build-out, it might require a fire station since the master plan is viewed by many as a small city even though Fire Station 4 at 4375 Pala Mesa Drive is relatively nearby. Fire mitigation fees that come from developers could pay for the construction, or a developer might build the station for the district and receive credit against its fees.

Not all development benefits the district, however. Although Palomar College plans to construct a learning center in that area, contractors do not pay developer fees because college construction falls under the state. Palomar College and its needs, however, would be served by the NCFPD district.

More people and more cars have the greatest impact on fire services, however. According to Chris Hasvold at Coldwell Banker Landmark Group, in the late 1990s, when 600 home building permits were being issued each year, the result was large developments like Sycamore Ranch, Peppertree, Brook Hills, Tanglewood and Poets Square, small developments in Morro Hills, the tract development east of I-15, homes under construction at Stage Coach and Gum Tree and myriad custom homes on almost every bit of vacant land.

Moreover, the military and migrant population continued to grow filling area apartments. Data compiled by Kathy Broderson at NCFPD shows traffic volume on I-15 and SR-76 grew to 346,000 vehicles per day in the past five years, which is a 31-percent boost. This alone increased traffic accidents by 72 percent in the same time period, each resulting in a response by NCFPD.

While waiting for its new facilities plan, NCFPD moves forward to build a permanent structure to replace the mobile home housing Fire Station 5 at 31403 Old River Road near the new Bonsall Elementary School. Further, Station 3, which opened in 1976 to protect the Olive Hill area, has just been remodeled to increase its capability, but replacement of Fire Station 4, housed in a mobile home since 1979, has been postponed until 2008/2009. This is due to possibly regionalizing fire services and delays in development of the Meadowood, Passerelle and Pappas property east of I-15, says Morel.

Housing development within the district creates developer fees of which $0.46 per square foot goes to NCFPD. Even if development goes forward, thereby increasing fire mitigation fees, it might not be enough to provide services required, says Glasgow. If that happens, the NCFPD might require a benefits assessment fee. “We’d never go to the voters without first making sure there was interest and we’d get support,” Glasgow says.

The annual assessment report also lists a new headquarters fire station and administration building to be built in 2010/2011. Approved in 2001/2002, these facilities would replace the main fire house built in 1962 and the adjacent administration offices housed in temporary trailers without adequate facilities, restrooms, meeting rooms and office space.

Since its inception in 1888, the NCFPD modern fire department has grown to include six fire stations, five of which are staffed with paid personnel supplemented by reserve fire fighters and one of which is all volunteer. In addition to its approximately 90-square-mile service area, it also provides emergency medical service for 40 additional square miles outside the primary area. Thirty years ago, four to five people a day made up the fire department. Today, 90 people presently provide NCFPD services.


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