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Fire chief offers a year in review


Last updated 1/20/2020 at 7:52pm

Chief Stephen Abbott

North County Fire Protection District

For many reasons, 2019 proved to be a bellwether year for the North County Fire Protection District. With the advent of heavy rains, we actually had more vegetation fires than in previous years due to the presence of light flashy fuels.

Notwithstanding the wetting rains increased live fuel moisture such that those fires by-and-large did not get out of control throughout the state.

By the same token, with the repealing of the individual mandate for health insurance, many people chose to drop their coverage. As a result, there was no significant increase in the number of emergency medical responses over the prior year.

As a side note, California has instituted a mandate for individual health insurance coverage which was effective Jan.1, so if residents fall into this category it would be advisable to look at obtaining health insurance once again.

Across the region, the San Diego North Zone implemented a medical director position and will be looking toward 911 “call triage” and “priority medical dispatch,” which is basically a way to make the 911 system more efficient.

Within the North Zone, all fire agencies adopted a uniform records management system to streamline data mining and information sharing. A similar effort is occurring with fire inspection software, specifically to streamline abatement of weed and brush hazards.

The fire district expanded its joint powers agreement with the Fallbrook Regional Health District, which is now providing substantial support toward a medical services officer and a social media specialist position.

The purpose of this arrangement is to augment quality assurance and community outreach as we embark on community paramedicine, a concept that residents will hear more about in the months and years to come. Around the county, the board of supervisors awarded the fire district a grant for wellness equipment, which will enhance the fire district’s employee wellness initiatives.

Early in the year, the district’s board transitioned future elections from elections at large to zone-based elections. As a result, there will be two vacancies created during the upcoming 2020 general election cycle.

Last but certainly not least, the district pursued Proposition A to address its aging infrastructure. As that measure was unsuccessful, we will be initiating a strategic planning process to come up with other means of recovering costs and creating further efficiencies.

Rest assured, we want to do everything possible to avoid any reduction in the levels of service.


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