Based on particularly poor timing for conducting such a discussion, as well as the possibility of committing the district to an inferior level of total service at greater cost, the CCSD board should consider discontinuing soon the notion of shifting permanent control of our fire services to Cal Fire.
Residents of Cambria are understandably afraid of fire. The many wildfires in the state, the recent ones in the county, and the present condition of our forested areas in and about town make the very real threat apparent to everyone.
Add to this the distinctly challenged fiscal condition of the district, and people — whether or not they should — have drawn the conclusion that their fire safety may soon be compromised simply in order to save some money. Perceptions matter, and the perception is increasing that eliminating local control of Cambria Fire is being considered for the wrong reasons.
Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane: “I’m tired of getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop.”
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An irony is, of course, that no money may be saved at all by eliminating Cambria Fire and contracting with Cal Fire — as there is nothing to stop Cal Fire from raising its charges, even dramatically, from year to year. Los Osos, which presently contracts with Cal Fire, just got a 10.7 percent increase that district there will have to pay this year. A real difficulty in the future could be the attempt to return to a local department after having sacrificed control.
Sugar Kane: “You think this is gonna be the biggest thing since the Graf Zeppelin, and the next thing you know, they’re borrowing money from you and spending it on other dames and betting on horses. Then one morning you wake up, the guy is gone, and all that’s left behind is a pair of old socks and a tube of toothpaste, all squeezed out.”
Perhaps an even greater concern is over the quality of service provided. All agree that Cal Fire does a fine job on the mission for which it is intended, that is for fighting wildfires. Substituting them in Cambria for rapid response to house fires and health calls could be problematic. Training in fighting structure fires is an issue, as is lack of an inherent, fundamental knowledge of the labyrinthine street system in town, not to mention familiarity of rotating personnel with our equipment.
Moreover, the stories about how Cambria Fire is frequently the first responder to health-related emergencies, conditions in which minutes matter, are legion. In sum, it is not clear that Cambria would be getting what it might have thought it was getting by switching.
Jack Lemmon as Daphne: “I can never have children!”
Joe E. Brown as Osgood: “We can adopt some.”
Daphne: “But you don’t understand, Osgood! I’m a man!”
Osgood: “Well, nobody’s perfect.”
The possibility that we would be getting something very different than we have now — at potentially even greater cost in the future — should give us pause in continuing down this road.
The board should instead hire a permanent chief who can exercise effective administrative control, and reinforce its commitment to Cambria Fire as providing the best quality of protection for its residents.
With his apologies to Billy Wilder.