11/20/08

HISTORIC FIRE REORGANIZATION COMPLETED

SAN DIEGO – San Diego County’s historic decision to reorganize and improve fire protection service in the County’s rural backcountry has received final approval by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), and covers a major portion of North and East County that was devastated by wildfires in 2003 and 2007.

County Supervisors approved reorganizing backcountry fire agencies into one County agency in June. Phase 1 of the three-step plan has already unified six existing backcountry volunteer agencies under an umbrella now known as San Diego County Regional Fire Authority. The authority will cover about 50,000 people.

Fifth District Supervisor Bill Horn said, “Working alongside Cal-Fire, LAFCO staff, and our volunteer firefighting agencies, we have achieved a significant breakthrough for public safety in this region. By sharing resources, setting up mutual aid agreements, and streamlining our command and control structures, we will vastly improve emergency response times and surge capacity for more than a million acres of the most fire prone areas of the County, and we did it all at a bare minimum of expense to taxpayers.”

Under the reorganization, a Fire Warden position will be established to provide administrative support to the Fire Authority. The Fire Warden will assist in processing discretionary planning permits to ensure fire code compliance, help in updating fire codes, and provide administrative oversight for contracts with fire protection and emergency service providers.

The Board of Supervisors set aside $15.5 million a year for fire protection and will provide administrative oversight for the service. By 2012, the plan will expand service to 12 agencies and 1.6 million acres.

Contact: John Culea – 
619 531-4709 Cell: 619 548-1765 Fax: 619 685-2662