MADERA COUNTY — The Madera County Fire Department benefited from several actions taken during Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
First was a vote to accept a donation from the Paid Call Firefighters (PCFs) at Station 12 in Oakhurst of a 2017 F-450 Chassis XL 4×4 SD Super Cab truck purchased for $44,338.
The vehicle will replace their current 1989 Utility vehicle that is used to support firefighting and fire department operations.
Station 12 is manned full time by career Cal Fire personnel as well as PCF’s or “volunteer” firefighters. Acting PCF Captain John Peterson says that over several years they have sent out fundraising mailings to the community with very generous responses, allowing them to finance the purchase of the new truck.
The County’s only cost for the new equipment will be installing a utility bed and a lift gate before the new truck is placed into service at Station 12, expected within six months.
According to Administrative Battalion Chief Matt Watson, the Station 12 PCFs also provided 50 percent of the funding for the station’s squad unit about 10 years ago.
At the Oct. 4 meeting, the Board also approved the purchase of two new tactical hybrid water tenders, one to be placed in service at Station 12 in Oakhurst, and the other at Station 19 in Bonadelle Ranchos.
The PCFs at Station 19 presented a check to the Board in the amount of $40,000, raised over the past few years through events hosted by their firefighters and Auxiliary members, to go toward this purchase. The cost of the two new water tenders is about $540,000.
The Board also approved an agreement to accept a Cal Fire grant for $19,845, for the purchase of Wildland Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Madera County PCFs, which includes gear such as fire shelters, wildland coats and pants, web gear, belts and harnesses and wildland boots. This grant requires $19,845 in matching funds, which will be provided through Fire Department budgeted funds, therefore, it will have no impact on the County’s general fund.
“The Madera County Fire Department is an All Risk Fire Department providing fire suppression, HazMat and rescue services to the communities of Oakhurst, Coarsegold, Bass Lake and North Fork,” say documents presented by staff to the Board. “These communities have a total population of only 8,556, but cover over 1,000 square miles. There are 11 fire stations that are staffed with a combination of career and volunteer firefighters.”
The Madera County Fire Department had 314 vegetation fires that burned 8,144 acres in 2014 and 2015, destroying 77 residences, 22 outbuildings and 17 vehicles. These communities are located in some of the highest tree mortality due to beetles and drought in the State of California.
“The fire conditions In Madera County are getting worse, which makes this grant critical for The Madera County Fire Department to provide NFPA [National Fire Protection Association] compliant Wildland PPE to our firefighters. The Wildland PPE jackets and pants will greatly improve the department’s ability to provide NFPA-compliant safety gear to our current firefighters and allow us to improve our recruitment and retention program.
“These communities reside in a rural area that is interlaced with LRA and SRA boundaries in Madera County. The Madera County Fire Department is in need of more safety equipment to address the ever growing Urban Interface areas that impact our ability to protect the lives, property and environment of these communities. NFPA-compliant WildIand PPE is an essential lifesaving piece of equipment that is in great demand for our firefighters. The firefighters routinely find them self in situation that without the proper safety gear, they would be unable to perform their job.”
The Board also proclaimed Oct. 9 through Oct. 15, as “Fire Prevention Week” in Madera County.
Fire is a serious public safety concern both locally and nationally, and homes are where people are at greatest risk from fire. The 2016 Fire Prevention Week theme — Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years — effectively serves to educate the public about the vital importance of replacing the smoke alarms in their homes at least every ten years, and to determine the age of their smoke alarms by checking the date of manufacture on the back of the alarms.