Thursday, December 17, 2015

Questions asked of County Fire and Special Districts

To properly evaluate the four options presented to us by County Fire we will need to know the answers to the following questions. A group of Wonder Valley Community members got together to formulate these and presented them to Division Chief John Chamberlin of County Fire, and Special Districts.

Many of these questions were sent to us from members of the Wonder Valley Community.

County Fire's PowerPoint Presentation with the 4 options - slides 21-23
bit.ly/firetaxppt

Wonder Valley
Citizen’s Fire Services Committee
Questions Submitted to County Fire

ISO Ratings

  1. What is the ISO rating for Wonder Valley under the current fire service provided by San Bernardino County Fire?
  2. What would be the ISO rating for Wonder Valley with the proposed 2 fire personnel staffing at a cost of $1,607,058.00 or $347.00 per parcel per year?
  3. What would be the ISO rating for Wonder Valley with the proposed 3 fire personnel staffing at a cost of $2,265,881.00 or $489.00 per parcel per year?

Call Volume

  1. What is the average call volume per year based on the last five years for the Wonder Valley Fire Station?  Please itemize the average call volume for the following within Wonder Valley:
    a. How many calls were for emergency medical services (EMS)?
    i. How many calls required advance life support services?
    ii. How many calls were actual calls that resulted in basic life support services (BLS)?
    iii. How many calls for emergency medical services were either canceled or required no medical aid from arriving fire and EMS personnel?
    iv. How many of these calls were outside the Wonder Valley area?
    v. How many patients who called for EMS died in the prehospital setting because a BLS engine arrived first on scene and began BLS services while ALS units were responding from 29 Palms?
    b. How many calls were for fire suppression services?
    i. How many of these calls required automatic and/or mutual aid from other fire agencies?
    ii. How many of these calls were either canceled in route or required no fire suppression services once fire personnel arrived on-scene?
    iii. How many of these calls were outside the Wonder Valley area?
    c. How many calls were for technical rescues?
    i. How many of these calls required automatic and/or mutual aid from other fire agencies?
    ii. How many of these calls were for auto extrication?
    iii. How many of these calls were for swift water rescue?
    iv. How many of these calls were for mine shaft or confined space rescues?
    v. How many of these calls were either canceled in route or required no fire suppression services once fire personnel arrived on-scene?
    vi. How many of these calls were outside the Wonder Valley area?
    d. How many of these calls were for hazardous materials events?
    i. How many of these calls required automatic and/or mutual aid from other fire agencies?
    ii. How many of these calls required a hazardous materials response at the technician level or higher?
    iii. How many of these calls were either canceled in route or required no fire suppression services once fire personnel arrived on-scene?
    iv. How many of these calls were outside the Wonder Valley area?
    e. How many of these calls involved an off-road vehicle accident?
    i. How many of these calls required automatic and/or mutual aid from other fire agencies?
    ii. How many of these calls were either canceled in route or required no fire suppression services once fire personnel arrived on-scene?
    iii. How many of these calls were outside the Wonder Valley area?
    iv. How many of these calls required either BLS or ALS services?

Staffing

  1. What are the minimum requirements for our local citizens to become paid-call firefighters
  2. Where would the paid-call firefighters receive their initial training and their in-service training to qualify and remain proficient with the skill set required of a paid-call firefighter?
  3. How does the compensation work for paid-call firefighters?
  4. Will all paid-call firefighters receive the training and be qualified to drive and operate all fire apparatus assigned to station 45?
  5. Who will provide the management of station 45 if it becomes a paid-call fire station?
  6. Can County Fire provide the citizens of Wonder Valley with a staffing organizational chart for a paid-call fire station?
  7. Can the paid-call firefighters assigned to station 45 be trained to the Emergency Medical Responder Level since MBA Ambulance currently provides both Advance Life Support Services and transport?
  8. What alternative staffing plans does the county propose for fire protection since full-time staffing levels are cost prohibitive? 
  9. Does the county honestly feel the call volume from station 45 justifies full time fire personnel assigned to Wonder valley?

Fire Apparatus and Equipment

  1. What equipment and fire apparatus is currently assigned to station 45?
  2. How many fire personnel assigned to station 45 under the current fire service plan are qualified to drive and operate all of the fire apparatus assigned to Wonder Valley?
  3. If station 45 becomes a paid-call fire station will the county provide the Wonder Valley Station with modern fire apparatus that meets current NFPA and OSHA standards?
  4. Who currently owns the fire apparatus assigned to station 45?
  5. Can we get a complete inventory of all equipment and fire apparatus assigned to station 45?

Budget

  1. Will the county provide a line item breakdown for the current operating expenses for station 45?
  2. Will the county provide a proposed budget to include income and expenses for station 45 to be operated as a paid-call fire station?
  3. What kind of accountability can the citizens of Wonder Valley expect in the future, in terms of an annual budget, financial statements, and a quarterly meeting with all stakeholders to ensure the taxes collected for fire services remains on the books for Wonder Valley?
  4. Can the county operate a paid-call fire station without raising the current tax rate for fire services in Wonder Valley?

Taxes

  1. Is the proposed tax increase for full time fire personnel as outlined in your presentation in addition to the current $34.00 tax and the ad valorem tax?
  2. How will this tax increase in future years; through cost of living increases, through inflation, or any other type of formula used to justify tax increases?
  3. How did a 1000% tax increase sneak up on the citizens of Wonder Valley?  Who is being held accountable for these increases that seem like an unjust tax rate for the Wonder Valley Area compared to other areas within San Bernardino County?
  4. Is the county imposing this tax on other areas?  Can the county prove that the taxes are being applied equitably?
  5. Can the county provide the citizens of Wonder Valley a chart or graph of the amounts of ad valorem tax allocated to County Fire from Wonder Valley since July 2008?
  6. Why did Wonder Valley have to become a separate fire protection zone? Why does any area have to become a fire protection zone?
  7. There is a perception that County Fire is only interested in being the sole provider for fire and emergency medical services for the entire county.  It appears the only organizations that will benefit from this will be the county, County Fire, and the fire union.  Who is looking out for the best interest of Wonder Valley?
  8. What will happen to the citizen that can’t afford to pay the proposed tax increase?  Will the county place a tax lien on the property and sell it out from underneath the property owners of Wonder Valley?
  9. Are the citizens of Wonder Valley being taxed for fire services outside the Wonder Valley area, for example, when station 45 is dispatched to a call in Amboy, or I-40, or Essex?  If not, then who is providing the funding for responses outside the Wonder Valley area?

Special Districts/LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission)/County

  1. Could the county transfer the tax dollars collected from Wonder Valley to a private company to provide fire and emergency services to the Wonder Valley area?
  2. What are the Wonder Valley boundaries defined by the fire protection zone 4?
  3. If the fire protection zone 4 is dissolved, then what defines the boundaries of Wonder Valley?
  4. If station 45 becomes a paid-call fire station, how large of a response area will station 45 be responsible to provide coverage for?

Fire & Emergency Medical Services Response

  1. There are too many instances when the fire personnel assigned to station 45 have been observed driving the fire apparatus outside of the Wonder Valley area such as within the City of Twentynine Palms and on Hwy. 62 traveling W/B towards Yucca Valley.  Who is covering the fire and emergency response needs for Wonder Valley while the fire apparatus is allowed to leave their primary response area?  This has become a daily occurrence.  Why does County Fire allow this to occur on a daily basis when the Wonder Valley citizens are being taxed for fire and emergency response services 24/7?
  2. Under the current service /staffing plan what is the typical response to a single family dwelling structure fire in the Wonder Valley Area?
  3. Under the current service /staffing plan what is the typical response to a vehicle accident that requires extrication in the Wonder Valley Area?
  4. How would the various responses for fire and emergency services differ from the current level of service as compared to station 45 becoming a paid-call fire station?
  5. Which agencies currently provide automatic and mutual aid for fire and emergency services to the Wonder Valley area?
  6. What is the current response area for station 45?
  7. Many times station 45 fire personnel have been called out of Wonder Valley to provide mutual aid to the City of Twentynine Palms and surrounding county areas which left Wonder Valley with no fire and emergency medical services coverage.  What are the current plans to back fill station 45 when fire personnel and apparatus are out of their assigned response area?
  8. Most vehicle fires and auto accidents are caused by travelers who do not live in the Wonder Valley area but require emergency responses from station 45 which is funded by the citizens of Wonder Valley.  Does County Fire have a cost recovery program to off-set the cost of providing services to travelers/tourist who live outside the Wonder Valley area?  If there is no cost recovery program, then can we initiate such a program to help pay for fire and emergency response services.

Special Districts
The questions above under Special Districts/LAFCO were taken from these.

  1. Who owns the Wonder Valley fire station property?
  2. Who owns the Wonder Valley fire station building & living quarters?
  3. Who owns the Wonder Valley community center property & building?
  4. Who owns our fire equipment?
  5. If our fire station is closed, could another entity use or lease the building?
  6. Could we transfer our tax dollars to a private or non-profit entity to provide us with fire or emergency services?
  7. Who owns the other fire station in Wonder Valley? Can the community, or another entity, use or lease the building?
  8. If the proposed fire tax is approved, what will happen to a person who cannot afford the tax? Will the county take their home and land?
  9. Are the boundaries of Wonder Valley defined by FP 4? Whether or not the proposed tax is approved, will FP 4 remain, or be dissolved? If FP 4 is dissolved, what will define the boundaries of Wonder Valley?
  10. If FP 4 is dissolved, will the FP 4 assessment be discontinued? If FP 4 is not dissolved, do we still have a right to the agreed upon service? What will the FP 4 assessment provide us?
  11. May we have a complete inventory of all of the equipment in the WV fire station? What will happen to this equipment if the proposal is approved, and if the proposal is not approved?
  12. Does Wonder Valley have the right to form its own fire / emergency service? If so, what is the procedure to do so? If not, why not?

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