HIGHLAND – Fifty firefighters battled a third-alarm fire at a meat-packing plant early Monday, a blaze that caused an estimated $1 million damage to the building. The fire at Far West Meats at 7759 Victoria Ave. was reported at 6:56 a.m. Firefighters arrived and saw no smoke or flames until they checked out the attic. “It did eventually punch through the roof,” said Cal Fire spokesman Bill Peters. About 30 workers inside the plant also didn’t know the building was on fire right away. Continue reading Firefighters battle blaze at Highland City meat plant
State firefighting costs have nearly tripled in the past decade but Cal Fire has avoided taking major hits in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget. The state’s firefighting agency has $790 million budgeted. A one-time savings of $17 million for the delayed replacement of fire engines and other vehicles is the only cut currently being considered for Cal Fire. San Bernardino County was scheduled to receive two new fire engines this fiscal year. “The governor has worked very hard to make sure we don’t take cuts,” said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. Yet, state budget analysts recommend a startling $55 million reduction to Cal Fire’s budget. Part of the suggested slashing includes prematurely ending its multi-million dollar contract with the owners of a DC-10 jet based in Victorville. Continue reading Cal Fire evades massive damage from budget cuts
PALERMO — Flames sparked by a lawnmower, fueled by Monday’s triple-digit temperatures and strong south winds, destroyed a home and scorched almost 50 acres in the Palermo area. It was the fourth consecutive Monday that a mower has triggered a fire. It was the largest of four fires that firefighters were called to Monday in Butte County, though in one case, they weren’t needed. At 11:47 a.m., firefighters responded to the largest fire, located just north of Palermo Road between Power House Hill Road and Lone Tree Road. Cal Fire-Butte County Battalion Chief Mike Shorrock said the blaze spread quickly, partly due to the weather conditions, which Shorrock said created “extreme fire behavior.” In just 20 minutes, the blaze consumed 40 acres, and by the time firefighters arrived at Palermo Road, a house that sits off the roadway was already fully engulfed in flames. A giant column of black smoke could be seen miles away as the flames consumed the home and several cars on the property. Continue reading Blaze consumes house, 48 acres in Palermo
A divided city council approved a $1.5 million contract with the state to take control of its municipal fire department.
The city projects that hiring Cal Fire to run the department will save about $1.4 million over the next five years — a point of close contention among the council members.
Mayor Joan Faul, Mayor Pro Tem Lesa Rasmussen and Councilman Nelson Crabb supported going with Cal Fire to manage the department. Councilmen Joe Rivero and Gary Frago dissented.
“This city is not afraid of watershed moments,” Rasmussen said before calling for the vote. “The progress is in front of us, and all we have to do is reach out and grab it.”
The council approved the contract Monday. Faul signed it Wednesday and sent it to Sacramento for the final stamps of approval.
Under the deal, the city maintains the equipment and stations, while Cal Fire manages the staff and deals with union contracts.
A final date for Cal Fire to take control hasn’t been set, though city leaders expect it to happen Oct. 1 or sooner. Firefighters will sever ties with the city and be hired by Cal Fire, which also contracts with Merced County, Livingston, Gustine and Dos Palos.
The split vote ends 15 months of city research into whether a Cal Fire contract would benefit the city and the firefighters. The union signaled it wanted to be at the table if the city council looked into contracting for fire services.
City estimates show that the city will lose about $124,000 in the first nine months of the deal because it must pay out sick and vacation hours earned by the employees. Projections show it will save $186,000 in the next 12 months. By the end of the five-year, nine-month contract, the city believes it will have kept an extra $1.4 million that wouldn’t be there, had it kept running the department.
This includes an estimate that the contract’s cost will increase by nearly 20 percent in the next five years.
Resident Constantino Herrera wondered if the city would get stuck with expensive contracts later on with little choice but to approve them. “Once we go down this road, it sounds like we’re stuck with whatever cost,” he told the council.
Frago, the city’s first paid firefighter, noted that a possible switch posed an emotional decision for him and he wasn’t ready to support it. “It may be a good thing, but we’re moving too fast,” he said. “This is a big move for the citizens of Atwater.”
Rivero, after doing his own calculations, questioned the accuracy of the estimated savings. He thinks the city will only save $50,000 yearly. “I don’t care what anybody says,” he said. “I have gone over the forms. I have triple-checked them and quadruple checked them with different calculators.”
He worried that the city will lose control of the department and couldn’t support such a change.
Cal Fire Unit Chief Mikel Martin said Atwater Chief Ed Banks will become a Cal Fire battalion chief. He’ll still attend council meetings and manage the two stations.
“The patch might change,” Martin said, “but we’re not here to upset (the service).”
West Coast 911 firefighting news source – Merced Sun-Star
Dispatch Dora, Johnny B. Cool and Sergeant Safety were a few who taught more than 100 kindergarten through sixth grade charter school and home-school children about safety Wednesday morning at Paradise Intermediate School.
A collaboration of Butte County firefighters, Cal-Fire firefighters, Butte County sheriffs, Butte County Public Health officials, Paradise firefighters and paramedics mixed together to form the North Valley Fire PALS, Cal-Fire Information Officer Janet Upton said.
Continue reading Fire Pals teach, entertain students
AUBURN, Calif. — As many as 20 fire stations in the state could close, including the Cal Fire department station in Auburn, if a proposed budget cut plan is approved.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked Cal Fire to cut more than $52 million in budget cuts statewide.Â Cal Fire is proposing the closure of 20 fire stations statewide as well as another 11 inmate firefighting camps and one Helitack base.
Continue reading 20 Cal Fire Stations Might Be Closed