Myths Answered

I have heard that rumors and mistruths are being spread with  regards to the liability of the Dept.to providing services. Please listen to the audio below from when the JCFPD Board lawyer came and discussed this issue with the board in open session. Keep in mind these same protections apply to the county and state agencies.


MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT, COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY & CAL FIRE

In September 2017, the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Board voted 4:1 to decline the County/Cal Fire proposal to dissolve JCFPD, and the Board voted to remain independent. Despite overwhelming support shown by the Board and the community, the County has continued to distribute propaganda in the hope that this decision will be reversed. This is what the residents and property owners of this fire District need to know.

#1. Myth: The Community of Julian-Cuyamaca has had no voice regarding
the County’s proposal.

Fact: The County made two long presentations in Julian and hundreds of residents voiced their opinions at these events. Many residents also  attended Fire Board meetings and expressed their sentiments. The Fire Board, our elected representatives, honored the desire of the community at large and voted to remain independent. A Citizen Initiative will be on the June 2018 ballot to increase the Benefit Fee that supports JCFPD. This is an opportunity for residents to register their opinion through their vote. The Initiative may be seen as a referendum on JCFPD’s ability to sustain operations. A “Yes” on the Initiative will be a vote of confidence and a desire to maintain the volunteer fire department rather than dissolve and allow the County/Cal Fire to assume responsibility for structure fires in Julian-Cuyamaca.

#2. Myth: JCFPD has only 12 firefighters, and they are old and will soon be gone.
Fact: JCFPD has nearly 45 firefighters. Their average age is 30 years old. JCFPD recently graduated an academy class of 14 students and has a steady stream of recruits. After the high school football season ends, the JCFPD Fire Explorers program will resume, creating potential volunteer firefighters and offering a career path for young men and women in Julian.

#3. Myth: Residents in the Julian-Cuyamaca community are ignorant or uninformed regarding fire danger. This statement is part of the County’s propaganda that people in San Diego or Sacramento are more informed and better able to make decisions about how to prepare and fight fire in the back country.
Fact: Every resident in Julian-Cuyamaca is well aware this is a high fire risk area. We choose to live here despite that risk because of the beauty and serenity country life affords. We are a community of highly educated, well-trained and experienced men and women. It is beyond insulting to assume we are uninformed and unable to make decisions that affect our daily lives, and that we should delegate our rights to people who do not understand the risk versus reward that we choose. (JCFPD District map and sphere of influence)

#4. Myth: JCFPD will have to reduce services when the County removes its financial resources, leaving the communityvulnerable to wildfires.
Fact: Cal Fire and the US Forest Service are responsible for wildfires. They will continue providing the excellent service they have in the past. JCFPD’s mission is to provide structure fire protection and emergency medical services and this will continue as reliably as it has in the past. The June 2018 ballot Initiative provides the opportunity to raise the level of services.

#5. Myth: The County/Cal Fire paramedic staffed engine is dedicated to Julian-Cuyamaca.
Fact: The County/Cal Fire paramedic engine responds north to Warner Springs, south of Descanso, west to Ramona and east to Ocotillo Wells. In the summertime, many calls are to the Three Sisters Falls, outside Julian. They are also absent from Julian for training and meetings. A JCFPD  paramedic staffed engine will serve Julian and Lake Cuyamaca. It will be restricted to responding within the District. It will always be here to serve our community. This is what the ballot Initiative will provide.

#6. Myth: JCFPD cannot be sustained with a $200 Benefit Fee.
Fact: A Budget prepared with the assistance of firefighters, paramedics and community experts shows that JCFPD can be sustained with a $200 Benefit Fee. Obviously, more money is better, but JCFPD has always operated on a tight budget, just as other rural volunteer fire departments. JCFPD has proven it can provide better service to the community due to the volunteer firefighters’ knowledge of the local geography. These are our family, friends and neighbors who care about their and our community. They are our heroes and they are always here.
JCFPD COMMUNITY BUDGET PLAN

#7. Myth: The County/Cal Fire can provide better ambulance service than JCFPD.
Fact: The County Fire Authority and Cal Fire have nothing to do with the ambulance service. This is the responsibility of San Diego County Emergency Medical Services, a separate division of the County.

 

 

#8. Myth: The County/Cal Fire is canceling “automatic aid” to JCFPD and their response time will double.
Fact: JCFPD has “mutual aid” agreements with multiple fire agencies. They respond upon request rather than simultaneously with JCFPD. The mutual aid agreement with Cal Fire has been in existence for many years and has always worked exceptionally well. Semantics can create confusion and create unnecessary anxiety. This is a non-issue. See image above.

#9. Myth: JCFPD cannot be sustained without the financial support of the County.
Fact: The Citizen’s Initiative that will be on the ballot in June 2018 will increase revenue to JCFPD by $350,000. The increase in revenue will not only make up for the loss of County subsidy, it will enable JCFPD to raise the level of service. We will replace a part-time Fire Chief with a full-time Chief and hire paramedics to staff a rescue engine. We will have funds to hire an EMT for the paramedic engine, or pay a stipend to Reserves. We must fight this hostile takeover attempt by the County/Cal Fire.

#10. Myth: The County/Cal Fire is more organized, well-staffed, well-funded, and can do a better job than JCFPD.
Fact: The San Diego County Fire Authority is an administrative organization with no firefighters. The County contracts with Cal Fire to supply a staff ranging from Fire Chiefs to new recruits of firefighters. Over time, the Cal Fire culture has changed dramatically. A couple of decades ago, Cal Fire staffed its stations with residents from the community it served. That is no longer how it works. Cal Fire has become a big business. It contracts with counties and rural fire districts to provide fire protection for structures as well as wildfires. Cal Fire provides a path for upwardly mobile staff and this requires that they be re-deployed numerous times to gain the range of experience for promotions. To train and retain its best people, Cal Fire must provide a full range of benefits and increases in wages on a regular basis. Cal Fire can become more expensive than a community can afford. Examples are San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District that contracted for 4 years with Cal Fire. In June 2017, San Miguel canceled their contract due to increasing costs and a declining level of service. Riverside County contracts with Cal Fire and in 2018 the union negotiated wage increases ranging from 11 to 18 percent over the next 4 years. This has resulted in Riverside having to close stations and reduce staff and services previously afforded.

Julian-Cuyamaca is surrounded by small fire departments that were forced to accept the County/Cal Fire offer and their volunteers are now virtually non-existent. The stations that the County/Cal Fire promised to staff 24/7/365 have many “dark” days. Residents complain that sometimes there is no engine because it is being repaired. Occasionally only one or two firefighters are on duty with no Engineer to drive or operate the fire engine. When that happens, Cal Fire simply deploys the firefighters to another station, leaving the first station “dark”. These small communities no longer have an agency with the power to fight the County/Cal Fire.

These stories abound but the firefighters who are dissatisfied fear being outspoken because their jobs could be in jeopardy or they could get reassigned to an outlying station with little activity and opportunity for training. Another common complaint comes from the young Reserves who say that the career Cal Fire staff do not respect, mentor and help them. In fact, many young Reserves compete to work in Julian because our Volunteer Firefighters do mentor, train and help these young men and women find permanent jobs; and, they do this on a volunteer basis with no stipend.

But, the County/Cal Fire does have a much larger and better propaganda machine. They have contacts with television stations and newspapers. They have a staff that can pump out negative, scary and skewed (if not untruthful) information about JCFPD. Examples are a recent News 10 show that said JCFPD has only 12 firefighters (untrue) and statements by Dianne Jacob that
this is a “life or death” situation (scare tactic).

A few articles about the rise in cost and what other areas are experiencing:
Raises climb quickly in new Cal Fire contract

How Riverside County supervisors reacted to proposed fire service cuts
Fire budget cuts not received with acclaim
Fire Chief: Proposal Puts More Than 40 Positions on Chopping Block

Talk to the firefighters in Julian who fought the Cedar fire and many more. Talk to the paramedics who will tell you how Cal Fire cannot find a home from which a 911 call emanates. Talk to the young firefighters who have a career because of the JCFPD Fire Explorer program. Go to Julian Station 56 and look at our new fire station, and think about giving this and everything Julian-Cuyamaca has worked for over the past 35 years to the County to do with as they please.

BETTER YET…VOTE FOR THE INITIATIVE
TO INCREASE THE JCFPD BENEFIT FEE…

AND KEEP JCFPD INDEPENDENT.


Here is this page as a PDF for sharing with other concerned residents through email or other venues.

Myths Answered – Support our Historic Julian Volunteer Fire District