A big fuss is going on in northern California. A brush fire burned for almost five days, burning over five hundred acres and destroying five homes. Numerous cars were lost as was other property. Not a large fire by California standards, where hundreds of homes are lost each year to wildfire. Why the fuss? Not one firefighter responded to the fire and the locals are pissed.
The fire was located on Bradford Island, which is located in the Sacramento Delta. Bradford Island does not lie within the boundaries of any fire department or fire district and therefore is not protected. Surrounding fire districts will respond to the island if there is a credible threat to life safety. Assessments of the fire were made by surrounding fire districts and it was determined that there was no significant risk to life. Therefore, no one came.
The local media, both print and broadcast have made a point to tell the world that no firefighters responded to the fire. The anti-firefighter corner of the populace is having a field day with this story. As usual, the media is only reporting part of the story, according to some local residents.
Property owners on Bradford Island have in the past voted down the opportunity to be protected by a neighboring fire district. They didn't want to pay for it. As a result, they are not protected. They don't have any police protection either.
The comments section on the story posted on a TV station web site is a mixed bag. The firefighter haters leave comments about how real heroes shouldn't observe boundaries. A lot of comments show no sympathy for island residents, as they knew they weren't protected and they didn't want to pay for protection.
Frankly, I agree with the latter. Why should island residents get service for free, when every resident in the district pays for it?
We have a similar situation in my home town. Hometown surrounds an unincorporated community on three sides. Hometown has offered to annex this area into the city and provide fire, police and other services. Twice, the residents of the unincorporated area have voted not to come into Hometown.
The residents of the unincorporated area do not want the additional taxes, which are minimal by the way, nor do they want the additional codes and ordinances which would impact their lives. They might not be able to park junk cars on their lawns for example.
The unincorporated area does have fire and police protection, they receive it from the county. It's just that county fire engines literally drive past a Hometown fire station when they respond into this area. and a second Hometown engine is closer to the area than the closest county engine as well.
Of course Hometown will respond to a call in the unincorporated area if a life safety risk is present or if requested through the mutual aid system. As a Hometown tax payer, I am OK with that. I just don't think I should subsidize fire protection for the unincorporated area.
I am quite sure that if the unincorporated are burns, the residents will raise hell with Hometown F.D. and the media will jump on board. I just hope someone will remember the two prior votes.
Maybe these are arguments for true regional fire protection, with no boundaries or borders. Between jurisdictional disputes and the cost of providing service, perhaps it should be looked at.
Thanks for reading,
“You need to tell somebody…”
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