My Turn: Providing Truckee fire protection today and in the future
As the Fire Chief, I am responsible for the intricate and challenging daily operations of the Truckee Fire Protection District. This includes ensuring adequate emergency and administrative support services are provided to you, the customer, today and in the future. Our core services include responding to and extinguishing fires, providing paramedic emergency medical services and ambulance transport. Since our inception in 1894, the district has evolved and now provides many necessary specialty services including: a hazardous materials response team, swift water rescue, dive team, building collapse and extrication rescue, defensible space/fuels reduction specialists, prevention planning and engineering services for building and development. As our community continues to grow, so does the demand for services. Although the district has kept up with the pace of demand, each year resources are continually stretched to their limits and I am concerned about our ability to serve increased demands in the future. Your elected officials are equally concerned about the critical emergency fire-rescue services provided by the district and are not taking this issue lightly. The challenges faced during this past summers I-80, Washoe and Angora Fires gave us a clear understanding of the limitations of our resources. Each major fire has shown us that we must improve our ability to provide a rapid timely response to every fire in order to protect lives, property, the environment, and the economic well being of our communities. We are approaching a critical community decision if we are to make sure the district has the necessary personnel and resources not only to respond to tomorrows critical emergencies, but also to prevent such emergencies from occurring through effective fire suppression services. I know you are as proud as I am of the districts highly trained professionals that are dedicated to protecting and servicing our community 24 hours a day. To address these concerns, the Truckee Fire Protection District Board of Directors appointed an ad-hoc alternative funding committee to review district funds. After conducting a thorough review of operations, spending and revenue sources, the committee recommended the board implement a Fire Suppression Assessment. The assessment is an annual charge that would be collected through Placer and Nevada county tax rolls on behalf of the district. However, before the district is allowed to adopt and collect such an assessment, it must be approved by affected property owners. If approved, assessment funds can only be accessed by the district and used for fire suppression and protection within the districts service area not one penny can be diverted by the state. In addition, the districts finance committee will conduct annual audits to ensure that assessment funds are being used properly. On Jan. 29, 2008, the district board initiated proceedings to conduct a property owner balloting for the proposed assessment, which would total $49 per year for a single-family home. On Feb. 1, 2008, all affected property owners will be mailed a ballot packet, which provides a summary of the proposed assessment, answers to commonly asked questions and identifies the specific assessment on each property. This is your opportunity to show your support for or opposition to such an assessment, and we urge you to exercise your right to vote on this matter. The district has scheduled a workshop for Tuesday, Feb. 19 to answer any questions you may have.Bryce E. Keller is fire chief of the Truckee Fire Protection District.
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