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Volunteer Firefighters Refuse To Leave Julian Station

An emergency vehicle blocks the roll-up door of Julian Fire Station 56 on April 9, 2019. Volunteer firefighters have locked themselves inside the building in a protest over the dissolution of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District.
Priya Sridhar
An emergency vehicle blocks the roll-up door of Julian Fire Station 56 on April 9, 2019. Volunteer firefighters have locked themselves inside the building in a protest over the dissolution of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District.
The San Diego County Fire Authority was supposed to take over two stations from the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District Monday. But the volunteers took over one of the stations, saying the move to dissolve their force is illegal.

The San Diego County Fire Authority was supposed to take over two stations from the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District Monday. But volunteer firefighters took over one of the stations, saying the move to dissolve their force is illegal. In the interim, Cal Fire is responding to all fire and EMS service calls from their station in the Julian-Cuyamaca area.

The volunteers have stayed locked inside Fire Station 56 since Monday. Cars block the roll-up doors where fire trucks would normally roll out. Paper covers the windows so no one can see in.

It's the latest move in a fight that's been going on since last year when the previous fire board voted to dissolve the district. The board's decision was upheld by LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees special districts like the JCFPD.

Paper blocks the windows of Julian Fire Station 56, preventing people from seeing inside the building as volunteer firefighters stage a sit-in protest on April 9, 2019
Priya Sridhar
Paper blocks the windows of Julian Fire Station 56, preventing people from seeing inside the building as volunteer firefighters stage a sit-in protest on April 9, 2019

Last month, residents of the district voted for its dissolution. Now, the volunteers are suing, saying the 2018 application for dissolution was illegal. Last Friday, a San Diego County judge agreed the previous board violated the Brown Act in the process of asking for the dissolution.

RELATED: San Diego County’s Last All Volunteer Fire Department May Soon Be Dissolved

In a statement, the volunteers said, "LAFCO knew that JCFPD's dissolution application had been submitted illegally after three former board members conspired with Supervisor Dianne Jacob to eliminate local control over fire protection and emergency medical services."

The exterior of Julian Fire Station 56 on April 9, 2019.
Priya Sridhar
The exterior of Julian Fire Station 56 on April 9, 2019.

Jacob responded with a written statement of her own Tuesday: “Cooler heads need to prevail. A sit-in that disrupts the operation of a fire station only jeopardizes the public’s safety. I urge those who continue to oppose dissolution to respect the process that has played out so far, including the recent election, and seek other ways to challenge the issue that don’t put the public at risk.”

The dispute returns to court on Wednesday morning.

Volunteer Firefighters Refuse To Leave Julian Station
The San Diego County Fire Authority was supposed to take over two stations from the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District Monday. But the volunteers took over one of the stations, saying the move to dissolve their force is illegal. You can hear this story and other local news every morning by subscribing to San Diego News Matters, KPBS’ daily news podcast. Subscribe via iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.

Corrected:
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify how fire protection services are being provided in Julian during the sit-in.