Town’s fire emergency officially comes to end
With a new fire chief and new medical and fire equipment, the town of Washington’s volunteer fire department is no longer in an official state of emergency.
Former Chief Mervin Lee was fired by the Washington Fire District Board, the agency that rules the volunteer department, after an audit of the department by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection discovered that Washington’s equipment was insufficient for fire and medical response calls.
Steve Monaghan, the county’s chief information officer, and Rich Reader, the county’s general services manager, asked the Nevada County Board of Supervisors Tuesday to pass a resolution declaring the termination of the emergency.
“With a new fire chief, it seems like the firefighters are back in order and we feel like the state of emergency has passed,” Monaghan said.
The new chief is Mike Stewart, an engineer with the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District. Stewart was raised in Washington and is the son of Judi Stewart, the president of the Washington water board.
Along with a new chief, the volunteer fire department has new medical supply kits, radios, a defibrillator, and breathing apparatus, Reader said. “We are still working on the fire engine issues. CDF has one going through the paper mill to get allocated to them,” he said. They are also hoping the county will donate a Jeep.
Tom Coburn, the county’s general services analyst, said there are currently six active volunteers at every meeting and available to respond to calls, but this is down from the number before Lee’s firing. “There will be an active recruitment process,” Coburn said.
In other business, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday:
• Approved a resolution authorizing a $10,000, one-year loan to the Sierra Services for the Blind.
• Received a report presented by Nevada County Resource Conservation District President David Vertin about a proposed fuel break project spanning at least 1,500 feet in width and 15 miles in length. Vertin said the plan would require property owners to be involved and would work with the newly passed county Fire Plan to reduce the hazard of fire.
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