California Department of Forestry officials will meet with the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors on March 15th for a study session focused on the county´s emergency response needs.
Assistant County Fire Warden Mike Noonan says there are a variety of reasons why the costs of providing emergency response services have risen.
“We´ve gone from 800 calls in the early 1980´s to almost 5200 calls in 2004. The paid staffing in the county hasn´t changed during this time and the number of volunteers we have has declined significantly.”
Noonan adds that CDF personnel often do a lot more than fight fires.
“We respond to vehicle accidents, medical aids, house fires. We take a lot of pride in providing quality service to residents in the county.”
The March 15th study session will address most of the challenges the CDF and County face in providing comprehensive emergency response. Tuolumne County contracts with the CDF each year for their services. Tuolumne County paid about $950,000 last year for the CDF´s fire fighting services. The estimated cost for next year is projected to leap to $1.4-million.
The CDF also oversees inmate fire fighters during fire season. There are about 100 full time CDF fire fighters at work in the County between mid-May and October. The CDF dispatches fire fighters from 5 different locations in Tuolumne County, including Sonora, Don Pedro, Twain Harte, Groveland and Green Springs. They also oversee an air-attack base in Columbia.