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Lessons from NSJFD dispute

This letter is in response to The Union articles “Mediator to address fire staff dispute” in November and “Mediator tackles fire personnel dispute” on Dec. 28. I am a firefighter in the North San Juan Fire District. I had the duty of locating, investigating, and presenting potential mediators to the department. The first mediator I pursued, at the request of the three captains and some other firefighters, was a board of directors member of the California State Firefighters Association (CSFA). He charged $1,700 per hour plus expenses. He turned us down because we would not offer him an open-ended expense account. Altogether, I found and investigated four mediators. The mediator from CSFA was the most expensive. The least expensive was a fire chief from my home of birth, Woodland. He agreed to do mediation for no fee. He offered his time and talents as a service from one fire department to another. The fire district’s board of directors offered to reimburse his travel and lodging expenses up to $1,000. I had never met Carl Diekman before the meeting in early December at NSJ Fire Station No. 3.

My duty to the department and the mediation process was an education. I learned three things. First, mediators are usually very expensive. Second, the mediator helped us communicate and gave us the tools with which to fix the problem. However, it is each firefighter’s personal choice to use those tools or not. I am the daughter of a late firefighter. I live in a world of seemingly disintegrating moral character. And lastly, I learned that the strong moral character and courageous spirit of the firefighter lives on in Chief Carl Diekman, Chief Boyd Johnson and many of my firefighting colleagues at NSF Volunteer Fire Department.



Lisa Mathews

Nevada City


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