Village News - Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

NCFPD to pursue full consolidation with Rainbow


Last updated 3/23/2018 at 3:24am

A full consolidation of the Rainbow Volunteer Fire Department into the North County Fire Protection District is likely.

A non-voting discussion item at the Feb. 27 NCFPD board meeting provided favorable input on the proposal which will likely be a voting item at the March 27 board meeting.

"I think this is a great opportunity," said NCFPD fire chief Steve Abbott. "I'm really pleased with the level of teamwork and cooperation we've had to get to this point,"

The North County Fire Protection District encompasses 92 square miles in Fallbrook, Bonsall, and Rainbow. The district is the result of a 1986 merger between the former Fallbrook Fire Protection District, which was founded in 1930 and originally called the Fallbrook Local Fire Protection District, and County Service Area No. 7, which was founded in the 1960s and served Rainbow prior to the merger. The annexation of Gavilan Mountain was also part of the 1986 reorganization. The Rainbow Volunteer Fire Department maintained its autonomy after the merger, although administrative matters have been handled by the North County Fire Protection District, and volunteers continued to staff the Rainbow fire station, which became known as NCFPD Station 6.

"Things have just fundamentally changed over the course of the last 30-something years," Abbott said.

In 2008 the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and San Diego's Local Agency Formation Commission created the San Diego County Regional Fire Authority, and the initial phase included bringing territory not within the boundaries of a public agency but served by a volunteer fire department into the SDCRFA. The volunteer fire departments retained their autonomy and began working together with the paid firefighters covering those areas. Those volunteer fire departments included the De Luz Volunteer Fire Department but not the Rainbow Volunteer Fire Department, which was already within the NCFPD boundaries. The SDCRFA was later expanded to cover county service areas which provided fire protection and emergency medical services and which utilized volunteer firefighters. The Board of Supervisors approved a fire master plan in July 2013, and one of the implementation elements included training and stipends for volunteer firefighters. The county-funded training provides volunteer firefighters with the same level of training professional firefighters have, so the biggest impact to the volunteer fire departments has been the loss of firefighters to full-time paid positions. During the first nine months of the implementation 50 volunteer firefighters were hired as full-time personnel and 71 new volunteers were recruited for volunteer stations.

"It's very difficult to retain volunteer firefighters," Abbott said.


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