I am the fire chief of one of our county’s 14 Volunteer Fire Departments (VFD), in De Luz. You would think that I would be 100 percent in favor the proposed Proposition A Fire Protection Parcel Tax. The fact is I am dead-set against it. It is not needed and it is the wrong economic time for such a tax increase.
Every parcel in the county will have a tax increase of $52 to start, even those who live in coastal communities or areas not prone to large wildfires.
Fifty percent of the annual $50 million-plus is to go toward purchasing additional firefighting aircraft, a 50 engine (stored for emergency) surge fleet of apparatus, communications, training, fire prevention improvements. The other fifty percent is to go to the local fire agency. All the VFDs, which need the funds the most, will not see a dime of this.
Volunteer fire departments each staff between 20 and 60 firefighters all trained and capable to defend homes from wildfires. They operate some 150 fire engines, ambulances, water tenders and rescue apparatus for their small communities and to help defend other communities through County Mutual Aid. They have proved their courage and effectiveness at the Rice, Harris, Witch, Harmony Grove, Paradise and Cedar fires.
Fire chiefs from bigger departments (who will get the 50-percent share) are urging the community to vote “yes.” I urge you to vote “no” on Prop A.
County supervisors funded annually $15.8 million last June for continuation of the Fire Enhancement Program and the new Fire Protection plan. These two programs now allow all the back area 14 VFDs and 25 Rural East County Fire Departments to be staffed 24/7 year-round. It provided 29 new fire engines and water tenders for these departments – all paid in full and in our hands now. In addition, new communication equipment, training programs and station improvements have been funded and are being implemented.
Vote “no” on Prop A.