February 5, 2013 | Back to: Columns

Consolidated Fire takes as good as it gets from cities

Soon to be no longer an employee of Nevada County Consolidated Fire Department, I feel the need to freely comment on some of the comments made by the NCCFD Board Chairman (in the Jan. 26 edition of The Union).

What I find interesting is that while trying to rile up the NCCFD tax constituents regarding subsidizing the two cities, the reality is they help us as much as we help them.

If NCCFD pulls its employees out of Grass Valley Fire Department Station 1 and Nevada City Station 54, NCCFD will have to staff their Station 87 with those same employees. There is no savings to the NCCFD or its tax constituents by doing this.

The GVFD staffs their Station 2 with 3/0 staffing. While they may have to drop it to 2/0 (like all of NCCFD) and move an employee over to Station 1, they could provide essential fire and medical services without the services of NCCFD.

What all of Greenhorn Road needs to understand is Nevada City’s Station 54 is the station that is dispatched to our area. If NCCFD pulls out of Station 54, we will have service coming from Station 86 on Banner Mountain. This will add 5-7 minutes to a life-saving response.

If at the same time the Station 86 area has a medical emergency (happens more often then you think), Station 84 would be responding, adding 5-7 minutes to a life-saving response.

Who is left to cover the Station 84 area? This is not a good thing for the tax constituents of NCCFD.

Since a structure fire is required to have 12-15 firefighters, NCCFD will also be calling for mutual aid. NCCFD does not have the ability to down-staff all its stations for that many firefighters. If NCCFD pulls out of the two cities, they will have on any given day 10 firefighters on duty spread out over five stations. Do the math.

The cities would like a Joint Power Agreement and NCCFD wants a Joint Powers Authority. The NCCFD Chairman stated “A JPA is not acceptable.”

Why is it not acceptable? Is it the word “agreement” rather than “authority” that is at the heart of the matter?

A joint powers agreement (JPA) is a formal, legal agreement between two or more public agencies that share a common power and want to jointly implement programs, build facilities or deliver services.

Officials from those public agencies formally approve a cooperative arrangement. With a joint powers agreement, a member agency agrees to be responsible for delivering a service on behalf of the other member agencies.

A joint powers agency or joint powers authority (JPA) is a new, separate government organization created by the member agencies, but is legally independent from them. Like a joint powers agreement (in which one agency administers the terms of the agreement), a joint powers agency shares powers common to the member agencies, and those powers are outlined in the joint powers agreement.

I highly suggest you read “Governments Working Together, A Citizen’s Guide to Joint Powers Agreements”. http://senweb03.senate.ca.gov/committee/standing/GOVERNANCE/GWTFinalversion2.pdf.

Having been intimately involved in the inner working of NCCFD over the past eight years and an additional four years prior to that with 49ER FPD, it is my recommendation that NCCFD stop using strong arm tactics and agree to a Joint Powers Agreement with the two cities as that would be for the good of all tax constituents of the two cities and NCCFD.

Lisa LaBarbera lives in Grass Valley.

(I)t is my recommendation that NCCFD stop using strong arm tactics and agree to a Joint Powers Agreement with the two cities …

Lisa LaBarbera
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The Union Updated Feb 5, 2013 11:42PM Published Feb 5, 2013 11:42PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.