Elfin Forest/Harmony Grove Fire Department
20223 Elfin Forest Rd. Elfin Forest, CA 92029 Phone: 760-744-2186 Fire Chief: Frank Twohy
A special EF/HG Fire Department Inc. Fire Advisory Board (FAB) community meeting was held on February 28 which discussed the Reorganization of Structural Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services in Unincorporated San Diego County (Local Agency Formation Council (LAFCO) Micro Report) and the Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) Conceptual Reorganization of San Diego County Fire Services (attachment 1 to the Micro Report). That night we asked the community for direction. What do the residents of County Service Area 107 – Elfin Forest / Harmony Grove want us to do? An advisory vote was taken by show of hands. The residents directed the FAB to have EF/HG Fire Department Inc:
· Continue to provide the superior services demanded by the Elfin Forest and Harmony Grove residents of CSA 107 as provided in the contract for Fire Services dated, April 28, 1992 (amended date) between Elfin Forest / Harmony Grove Fire Department Inc. and County Service Area 107 – Elfin Forest for the County of San Diego.
· Follow the 15-year plan created by the Advisory Committee “Focus 15” in 2001 which includes an additional fire station in Harmony Grove and full time paid staffing.
The FAB, Chief Twohy and approximately thirty residents, attended the March 1 LAFCO workshop in Ramona. At this meeting your FAB presented its position on both the LAFCO Micro Report and DPLU studies. We thanked the LAFCO staff for their hard work and for including fire service professionals in the LAFCO Micro Report study process. We told LAFCO of our special community meeting providing updates on the progress of the LAFCO Micro report and (as best we could) the DPLU Conceptual Fire Plan. During a question and answer period we repeated the most asked question: “Why was LAFCO not holding a workshop in Elfin Forest and how do we get DPLU to come and explain their proposal?”
To substantiate the community’s support and direction, the FAB presented LAFCO the 156 petitions signed by the residents/voters of CSA 107. The petitions support the FAB position and pledge to protest to cause a vote, if any proposed fire studies go forward without identified, secured, sustainable funding in place prior to implementation.
The following Monday, Supervisor Bill Horn and County Chief Administrative Officer Walt Eckard each received a packet containing copies of the petitions, FAB Resolution and cover letter. The remaining County Supervisors and Gary Pryor, Director of the DPLU, received copies of the FAB resolution and the letter to Supervisor Horn. (Both documents are reprinted in this newsletter)
We have one more chance to ask questions and possibly come to understand the DPLU’s Conceptual Reorganization of San Diego County Fire Services when DPLU Director Gary Pryor come to the next EF/HG Town Council meeting on April 4 @7 PM to discuss it. This is a meeting not to be missed. I implore everyone to attend. We must show unity, concern and interest. If we let this meeting slide by it could be mistaken for not caring about your fire department and our community’s future.
By Battalion Chief Dawn Pettijohn
Engine 2811 answered the call to assist at the recent structure fire on Woodward Avenue in Escondido. Responding as part of a structure strike team with units from San Marcos, Solana Beach, Del Mar and Encinitas, our efforts to train to the North Zone Training Manual, and train with our surrounding agencies really paid off.
Engine 2811 crew at work (left)
It’s what we have been striving for…to be proficient in the North Zone standards and have the ability to respond and support our neighbors. Departments from all over North County came together knowing what to expect of each other directly as a result of this collaborative Zone-wide training effort.
Captain Bob Kephart repositions a hose line
Hats off to Captain Bob Kephart, Driver Operator Mike Shea, and firefighters Byron Macfarlane, Mike Martinez and Henry Vanzzini…praised by other agencies for a job well done. In the message we received from another department the caller stated, “They were right there with us in the extreme heat, heavy smoke and the collapse zone. They were just awesome”. Thanks guys, that’s what it’s all about.
FF Byron Macfarlane (left) operates a 2 ½” line
Congratulations are in order for probationary firefighter Brian Smith. Recently completing the Palomar Fire Academy, he has been hired by National City Fire Department. Sadly, we say goodbye, as Brian goes forward to pursue his career. We will surely miss his willingness and desire, and it was great having him with us.
As some of you may know, there are big things happening concerning the future of your Fire Department. Please inform yourself. Read Advisory Board President Nona Barker’s article and the LAFCO public meeting notice in this issue of the chaparral. Talk to your neighbors, your town council, and your fire board. We need your support. Please stand with us so we can continue to serve our communities that we love.
By Nona Barker, President EFHGFD Advisory Board
Dear Community Residents,
As you may know, for the last year the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) at the direction of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors (BOS) has been studying the possibility of consolidating all fire departments in the unincorporated areas of the County of San Diego. In early February, the final study “Reorganization of Structural Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services in Unincorporated San Diego County, Micro Study” (Micro Study) was released by LAFCO for public review and comment.
To our astonishment and to the surprise of all the county fire service organizations, a plan was included with the Micro Study. The purpose of the Micro Study was to present data to the general public and the fire service organizations prior to the development of a plan. The plan included was created by the County Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) without public input and entitled the “Conceptual Reorganization of San Diego County Fire Services”.
But should we be surprised by this disappointing development? History is repeating itself. Do you remember the private decisions made by the BOS during the redistricting of supervisory districts and the General Plan 2020? Each of these was preceded by hours of community meetings and the input of planning groups and public hearings. And, in the end, the BOS had a secret plan, so the voter’s efforts and inputs were all for naught. We believe the DPLU plan is what the BOS will ultimately approve.
Why am I telling you this? There will be many newspaper articles and media reports on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Micro Study and the DPLU’s plan. Some media reports will freak you out. Some will make you feel better. Some will be half-truths and others no truth. Emotions will run rampant.
This is not the time to relax or take your fire department for granted. The existence of your local fire department is in jeopardy. The Micro Study and DPLU’s plan has various components that must be addressed not just by your chief officers and Fire Advisory Board, but also by all the fire service organizations in San Diego County.
Here’s what you can do for the EF/HG Fire Department, your community and yourself:
· Educate yourself.
o Read the studies.
§ www.sdlafco.org (lower left home page)
§ Pay your fire department $10.00 (for copying fees) for a copy of the LAFCO studies, 760-744-2186
· Attend Meetings.
o Town Council (1st Wednesday each month @ 7 PM)
o Fire Advisory Board (2nd Monday each month @ 7 PM)
o LAFCO Public Workshops (LAFCO Notice is the last page of this month’s chaparral)
§ March 1, in Ramona 6 – 9 PM
§ March 7, San Diego 2 – 5 PM
§ May 7, San Diego (Tentative date for FINAL HEARING)
(Bus service will be made available if needed, please RSVP 7 days before the meeting date)
o Written comments DUE BEFORE 5 PM on April 6.
§ Send to LAFCO MICRO STUDY
§ 1600 Pacific Highway Room 452 San Diego, CA 92101
· Contact County Supervisor Bill Horn.
o 800-852-7335 or 619-531-5555
o 1600 Pacific Highway Room 335 San Diego, CA 92101
· Communicate with your Fire Chief and Fire Advisory Board.
o Fire Station 760-744-2186
· Sign the petitions of support when presented to you.
Your chiefs and the Fire Advisory Board will do their best to think globally and act locally. We cannot promise that nothing will change. We do promise to continue to do our best to protect the health and safety of County Service Area 107, our fire service area. We do promise to do our best to maintain or improve the support that the EF/HG Fire Department already provides. Your Fire Advisory Board and your chiefs have and will be meeting to create our plans. Not one plan, but several types of plans: plans of attack, plans of consolidations, and plans we can’t foresee right now. There will be direct communications to you via meetings, phone, email and the US mail.
Bring your concerns to your chief, Fire Advisory Board and Supervisor Bill Horn. Communication will help keep our wonderful communities and the EF/HG Fire Department Inc. department strong. Continued unification of the community and the Fire Department is what we need.
Thanks for being an active part of our community and please help us.
Frank Twohy Chief, EF/HG Fire Department
Nona Barker President, EF/HGFD Fire Advisory Board
Bob Kephart Vice President, EF/HGFD Fire Advisory Board
Byron Macfarlane Treasurer, EF/HGFD Fire Advisory Board
Rob Hill Secretary, EF/HGFD Fire Advisory Board
Mike Holmes Director, EF/HGFD Fire Advisory Board
Bob McGurk Director, EF/HGFD Fire Advisory Board
Ken Dubs Director, EF/HGFD Fire Advisory Board
If you have driven by the fire station lately you may have seen a beautiful new engine. Engine 2821 has arrived and will be here temporarily awaiting installation of a compressed air foam system. A sister engine to our primary structure Engine 2811, this new engine will replace our 22 year old Rescue 2890 which has absolutely seen its better days. The new Engine 2821 will also be set up for second out on structure fires, but with bigger cabinets to carry all the additional rescue equipment needed for vehicle accidents and over-the-side, back country, swiftwater and confined space rescues. If you ever wondered, it’s not possible to carry everything we will need in any situation on all of our engines. They are specially designed and equipped for specific uses. Not only just the equipment they carry, but also the size of the pumps, water tanks, ground clearance and off road capability. One very important item on this new engine is an ISO rated pump, now providing us with a second ISO rated pump in the department required by ISO (Insurance Services Organization).
The Department recently completed a Confined Space Operations class. Four days of intense training provided us the knowledge to identify atmospheric and engulfment hazards and safely operate at a confined space rescue. We have many dangers in the district from the pump house vaults at the reservoir, manholes and vent pipes for the aqueduct, and electrical vaults on the San Elijo border. This important training will help us to ensure our firefighters have the technical knowledge to stay safe and prevent firefighter injuries or fatalities. Many thanks to Scott Henry, Jim Colston and George Solano of California Shores for this great class.
On the personnel side…Congratulations are in order for Probationary Firefighters Brian Smith and Robert Berkey. Both recently completed the Palomar College Fire Academy. That’s some 576 hours of training in three months, and Brian Smith was second in his class. Also, welcome aboard to new Probationary Firefighter Jeff Mulvey. Jeff is an EMT and will also attend a fire academy. Good job, guys. These young firefighters are an inspiration to us all and we like to say they are what keeps us young.
An important reminder to all residents. If you have a locked access gate to your property, please ensure that you install some type of approved emergency key operated switch or activated strobe light sensor to allow emergency vehicle access. These features are required by the County Fire Code for all new construction, but residents with homes built prior to these requirements may not understand the importance. It is absolutely critical that we be able to access your property in an emergency, be it a fire or even a medical emergency where you may not be able to let us in. We can’t help you if we can’t get to you. It will be money well spent if it prevents property loss or, heaven forbid, loss of life. It only takes once…one time that we can’t get there…one time that could drastically change your life.
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Our annual business meeting and Christmas Party went well and we had a great time. Good food, presents, promotions, awards and some well deserved teasing all made for a wonderful evening. Congratulations to Firefighter Daniel Twohy for his selection as Firefighter of the Year. Nominated for his superior skills, dedication, motivation, professionalism and willingness to always help his fellow firefighters, a department wide vote went to this very deserving young man. Way to go Daniel, you are an inspiration to all of us.
We begin 2007 with some fantastic news! Award of our FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant for a $66,652 diesel exhaust system. It ensures all diesel exhaust is immediately and effectively evacuated from the station, not lingering to cause long term negative health effects for our firefighters. Thanks, Chief Twohy, for making this happen!
We also received a $25,000 award towards a new ambulance from the San Diego Fire and Emergency Services Foundation. For the last two years we have asked for funds towards our goal of replacing our old and aging Rescue Ambulance 2891…and we’re gettin’ there!
Secretary Rob Hill announces election results for the EF / HG Fire Advisory Board. We welcome both Ken Dubs, replacing Donn Grace, and Rosemarie Kerr as alternate. Officer election results: Nona Barker-Chairwoman, Bob Kephart-Vice Chairman, Byron MacFarlane-Treasurer, Rob Hill-Secretary, Mike Holmes-Director, Bob McGurk-Director, Ken Dubs-Director, Rosemarie Kerr-Alternate, and Chief Frank Twohy. A talented group prepared to lead us in the upcoming year.
So we hit the ground running in 2007. Right off the bat we’ll refresh our swiftwater rescue skills in anticipation of winter rains and continue to refine structure fire skills. The North Zone Training Manual keeps us busy with regional standardization of training. We’re working hard, and we’re committed to be the best fire department we can possibly be for you.
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