Margaret Moran

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April 7, 2014
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Lake Tahoe fire districts reach mutual aid agreement

MEEKS BAY, Calif. — With its longtime leader retiring last Friday, the Meeks Bay Fire Protection District has inked a contract that officials say will increase public safety while ensuring adequate emergency services.

The neighboring North Tahoe Fire Protection District will provide a full-time chief officer and management of Meeks Bay’s firefighters and staff for fire protection, training and administrative duties, among other services, according to the contract.

“We have worked together seamlessly for decades, and this is an opportunity to provide a higher level of public safety, while maintaining the individuality and local control of both districts,” said Ed Miller, president of the Meeks Bay board of directors, in a statement. “This is definitely a win-win agreement.”

According to the contract, which began Saturday and is effective through June 30, 2016, Meeks Bay will pay the North Tahoe chief an annual salary ranging from $102,318 to $118,144. That position reports to the Meeks Bay board of directors.

Whether the agreement will become permanent is unknown, Miller said this week. An ongoing evaluation of the partnership will be done by both district boards and staff.

“This (contract) exemplifies the best qualities of the fire service, neighbor helping neighbor,” NTFPD Fire Chief Michael Schwartz said in a statement.

The North Tahoe district covers 31 square miles on the North and West shores of Lake Tahoe, from Kings Beach to Homewood and areas in between.

Should an incident occur in Meeks Bay and NTFPD is called, North Tahoe Fire residents can expect no change in coverage, said NTPFD spokesman Dave Zaski.

Any service provided by NTFPD to Meeks Bay and vice versa will come at a cost. Miller was unable to provide potential expense figures for this story.

Meeks Bay Fire Chief John Pang’s last day was Friday, April 4, after 19 years of service.

The agreement provides the district time to find a new chief, if that’s the direction it decides to pursue, Miller said.

In the meantime, Meeks Bay operations will be handled by NTFPD Fire Marshal/Battalion Chief Tim Alameda, until the district determines who should take over for the long term, Zaski said.

Pang’s retirement comes at a time when several district leaders will be eligible to retire in the next few years.

As a result, the Meeks Bay board had been weighing options, including consolidation with neighboring districts, contracting for services and maintaining the status quo by hiring a new chief, according to past reports.

“The important thing now is to make the transition seamless to our constituency and keep a high level of service,” Miller said.

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Sierra Sun Updated Apr 10, 2014 06:23PM Published Apr 7, 2014 02:28PM Copyright 2014 Sierra Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.