Thursday, September 20, 2007

Letter Mailed to Loma Prieta Residents

September 14, 2007

Dear Neighbor,

Whenever there is a fire or medical related call to 911, whether it is for a broken arm at the school, chest pains at the store, a crash on Bear Creek road, or a person trapped under a tree, we respond to your call for help. By "we", I mean Santa Cruz County Fire.

Loma Prieta Volunteer Fire and Rescue is part of Santa Cruz County Fire and responds alongside the career Burrell engine using our four fire engines and one rescue truck. We respond as a team, Burrell provides guaranteed response and Loma Prieta provides response in depth. With up to 20 volunteer firefighters, we are well positioned to respond to multiple or major incidents. We often provide very fast response because we are your neighbors and may respond directly to the incident. Together, Loma Prieta and Burrell form a strong and cost effective team.

During the summer, there are seven paid Cal Fire stations open in the County. In the winter, the state would normally close these stations, but Santa Cruz County Fire contracts with the state to keep four fire stations open. Burrell is the fire station that remains open in our area. Most of the money spent by Santa Cruz County Fire goes to paying the salaries of career firefighters, such as those at Burrell. But a vast amount of money is saved because most of County Fire's Firefighters are volunteers. Volunteers are trained to the same high standards, do the same things as the paid firefighters at Burrell. But we are volunteers, and sometimes it may take us a little while to respond because we have to do other things too. We might be working or taking the kids to school. That is where the career firefighters come in. They are paid to always be there to respond to your call to 911, 24/7. We, as a community, need them.

Santa Cruz County Fire also provides the big ticket items to Loma Prieta Volunteer Fire and Rescue such as three of our four fire engines, fuel, a large amount of our basic equipment, and our core training.

If the measure doesn't succeed, we face cutbacks in career firefighters, from three to two per engine, reducing effectiveness. In addition, we face the closure of one or more career fire stations during the winter. We hope that Burrell won’t be closed, but we don't know for sure. Many fire engines are nearing (or even past) the end of their life cycle, and they might not be replaced. If there are cutbacks, you can rest assured that Loma Prieta Volunteer Fire and Rescue will still respond to your call to 911 the best we are able, but perhaps with inferior equipment and training.

The volunteers need you to vote in favor of this measure.


Alexander Leman
Chief, Loma Prieta Fire and Rescue

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Register Pajaronian regarding CSA-48

Without fee, fire station could close

Posted: Friday, Sep 14th, 2007


Corralitos and four other communities could lose one of their fire stations if a ballot measure fails to pass this fall.
“If nothing is done, we face cutbacks in trained emergency responders and/or closure of some local fire stations from November through May,”
“Local volunteer firefighters also rely heavily on Santa Cruz County Fire for training, tools and equipment, and also face funding cuts if nothing is done,” Mark Hickey, engineer with Corralitos Volunteer Fire Department, wrote in a press release.
The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors placed a measure on the ballot that, if passed, would charge homeowners $8.99 per month more for each single-family residential property served by Santa Cruz County Fire. This assessment would roughly double the amount that each resident pays, Hickey estimated. All funds raised by the measure would remain in local communities and could only be used to ensure and directly support fire protection and emergency medical response, he said.
“This is the fee that’s going to buy the replacement fire engines, water tenders and rescue vehicles,” Hickey said. “We want to provide the best service that we can without cutting anything. The downfall of this is if it doesn’t get passed is one of the stations will get closed.”
Asked which one, he said, “There’s a decision that has to be made. We don’t want the Board of Supervisors, who are the board of directors for county fire, to have to cut staffing in order to buy new engines.”
Santa Cruz County Fire protects the communities of Bonny Doon, Davenport, Summit/Loma Prieta, South Skyline and Corralitos. During high fire danger season (June through October), California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is responsible for staffing seven fire stations in these communities. Outside of high fire season, three stations are closed and Santa Cruz County Fire keeps four stations open.
With an additional $8.99 per month per property, Santa Cruz County Fire would allocate 62 percent of the money for replacement equipment, 33 percent for staffing and the balance for maintenance, Hickey said.
Four or five months ago, firefighters tested the waters by conducting an opinion poll, and the ballot measure enjoyed support in the high 80 percent range, Hickey said.
“The people in the South County and Corralitos area understand it — they’re very supportive of it,” he said.
Santa Cruz County Fire hasn’t purchased new equipment for more than 10 years, he said, and the cost has increased.“Engines aren’t $100,000 anymore. An average new engine is $300,000 plus. That’s on the lower end of the scale,” Hickey said.
Without upgrading equipment, a fire department can receive a lower insurance standards office rating, which affects homeowners’ insurance rates.
“In the long run, the homeowners’ insurance will go back up,” Hickey said, potentially amounting to more than the cost of the assessment.
Ballots are due by 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, when county supervisors will conduct a public hearing on the assessment at 701 Ocean St., Room 525, Santa Cruz. In compliance with Proposition 218, the ballot measure needs majority support to pass.


(Published in 9/14/07 edition)

Due Date for Ballots is October 23rd.

Some voters may have read recent reports in the media suggesting that the due date for the mail in ballot is November 6th. This is incorrect. The ballots were mailed on September 7th and as such the due date has been moved back as well.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

South Skyline Volunteers - New Web Site

The South Skyline Volunteers (includes Las Cumbres) have opened a new web site. The link is:

Information table at the Summit Store

Please keep an eye on this blog for a schedule of when firefighters will be staffing a table at the Summit Store in the Loma Prieta area to answer questions regarding the measure. A link below will take you to a calendar that will be updated in the next 24 hrs.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Important note regarding volunteer stations

An important note to remember is that regardless of the outcome, no volunteer stations will close.

Text submitted to the Mountain Network News for the October Issue

If you own property in unincorporated Santa Cruz County (but not in a fire district) you should have received your mail-in ballot for additional funding for Santa Cruz County Fire. Your Loma Prieta, South Skyline, and Las Cumbres volunteer firefighters strongly urge you to vote YES. The fee increase is small, about nine dollars per month, but it matters a lot to all of us that live here. These funds will help us help you when you call 911.

Outside of wildland fire season, Santa Cruz County Fire pays CalFire (formally CDF) to staff four Santa Cruz County Fire engines and keep four fire stations, including Burrell and Saratoga-Summit, open 24/7. Career and Volunteer firefighters work as a team to serve you in a cost effective manner. The four paid fire stations provide guaranteed response and the volunteer firefighters provide response in depth to large, complex, or simultaneous incidents such as fires, storms, or disasters.

Over 60% of the funding is designated for the replacement of our aging fire engines, rescues, and watertenders. The national standard for the useful life of a fire engine is 10 years and they can serve an additional 5 years in reserve. Almost all of our fire engines, rescues, and watertenders are older than 15 years now. These emergency response vehicles need to be replaced soon to remain effective.

It is really simple–without this small fee increase, the quality of your firefighting, emergency medical, and rescue services will suffer, and none of us wants that. So, please vote YES on the CSA-48 mail-in ballot. Your vote is very important, we need everyone's vote to pass this measure.

For more information, please email us at, call our station at 408-353-3529, visit our website:

Don't forget to mail in you ballot and thank you for your support!