Garden Valley Fire Chief Clive Savacool on Vote Failure

by Placerville Newswire / Sep 14, 2019 / comments

<Clive Savacool, Fire Chief,Garden Valley Fire Protection District>

The Garden Valley Fire Protection District held its Fire Suppression Assessment hearing yesterday, with a ballot count failing to reach the passing threshold. Since April, the District has held eight community meetings to provide information to the public in order for property owners to make an informed decision when casting their vote. The District appreciates the large turnout to both the meetings and the ballot submissions. We are comfortable at this point making a decision that is in the wishes of our community, which is to operate the Fire District within the confines of the existing funding mechanisms. 

Through creative measures over past years, the Fire District has operated at higher levels of service than the community funding sources alone would permit, providing 24/7 paramedic services with a minimum of two firefighters on duty at all times. With the inability to obtain these external funding sources moving forward, the Fire District will be initiating a process of service reductions. 
Three of the District's six firefighters were notified today that their positions would be eliminated this fiscal year, with layoffs effective June 30th of 2020. Only two of the remaining firefighters are licensed paramedics, so paramedic services will be limited to approximately 66% of the time. 

With the elimination of overtime from the budget, staffing in Garden Valley will be reduced to one firefighter per day at times until June 30th of 2020, at which point only one firefighter per day will become the standard. With the reduced levels of staffing, the District is no longer able to participate in the County's "Move Up and Cover Plan", eliminating station coverage from other fire agencies during periods when major incidents occur in the area. The District's volunteer firefighter program will be utilized, as it is available to maintain station backfill. However, the community needs to be patient and understanding that services are not going to be the same as they have been in the past. Response times will be longer, staffing levels will be lower, and services will be reduced. 

The District will continue to seek alternative funding measures and look for other opportunities to maintain fire protection and emergency medical services to the community. Thank you for your feedback and understanding. 

Respectfully, 

Fire Chief, Clive Savacool