Fire services in the county and city of San Luis Obispo received a pair of boosts this week, one as the result of a federal grant, the other coming from an expanded city-county agreement that will allow swifter access to fire and accident victims.
The expanded mutual aid agreement between the city of San Luis Obispo and Cal Fire will allow either agency to send the closest fire engine to all medical and fire emergencies, regardless of which jurisdiction the incident is in.
A mutual aid agreement to cover fires has been in place since 1979; this will enlarge it to include medical emergencies as well.
Some county fire stations are closer to city areas than city stations, and vice versa, said San Luis Obispo fire Chief Charlie Hines. He said someone whose house is on fire or is having a heart attack doesn’t much care which jurisdiction the help comes from — they just want the help.
“We’re in a race against the clock,” Hines said.
“When someone dials 911, they need help,” said county fire Chief Rob Lewin. “They will now get help faster.”
Hines said the “challenging” times have forced departments to pool resources.
The county fire department also learned this week of an $88,000 federal grant that will go toward training the 20-member joint Cal Fire and San Luis Obispo County Urban Search and Rescue team.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, announced the grant, which comes from the Department of Homeland Security.
Capps said the grant will ensure that firefighters, who “put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe every day,” have the training they need to respond to emergencies.
Lewis said it is “important that federal, state and local agencies work together,” and this grant will help make that possible.
For more information about the Department of Homeland Security’s assistance to firefighters grant program, go to www.fema.gov/firegrants.