Thursday, May 29, 2008
The San Diego County Grand Jury says the region needs a single "Fire Commander " to coordinate the patchwork of fire fighting agencies.
KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.
Cal Fire, a state wide agency, is currently the lead agency coordinating numerous fire fighting resources in San Diego’s backcountry, many of them voluntary,
Grand Jury Foreman Michael Letendre says the Grand Jury recommends establishing an independent office of “Fire Commander.”
Letendre: We think one person in charge - not exactly Cal Fire - we want someone from the area who’s familiar with the area to coordinate all the effort, including Cal Fire.
Fire Chief Augi Ghio, president of the Fire Districts’ Association, says that is the long term vision.
Ghio: I think that’s exactly where most of the fire chiefs want to go in this County. It’s the right thing to do, and the only thing stopping it from happening right now is funding.
A recent report suggests a fully consolidated regional fire fighting agency would cost the County $26 million a year to administer.
The County Supervisors plans to consider ways to consolidate at least some of the agencies at their meeting early next month.
In spite of the fact that San Diego voters have rejected two Transient Occupancy Tax increases recently, the Grand Jury recommends city and county leaders put another TOT increase on the ballot . The funds would be used solely to improve fire protection. .
Alison St John, KPBS News.