The Cambrian

Grand jury sees progress in Cambria on fire, emergency services

Efforts to remove French broom took place on Fiscalini Ranch Preserve recently.
Efforts to remove French broom took place on Fiscalini Ranch Preserve recently.

The county’s current grand jury has determined that actions agreed to by its 2014-15 predecessor and the agencies it investigated “have been or are in the process of being carried out.”

That follow-up or “continuity” report, released March 9 by the 2016-17 grand jury, included updates on two North Coast situations: “In a State of Emergency: Assessing Fire Risk in Cambria,” and “Making the Case for Efficiency: Maximizing Emergency Services in Cambria.”

In the Fire Risk report, the jury asked the district to confirm the status of a $498,000 grant that would pay toward reducing fire risk in the community. The Cambria Community Services District reported that the money had been awarded to the county’s Fire Safe Council, which submitted to the jury a detailed grant allocation document. The grant-funded work has been ongoing.

For instance, project manager Jim Neumann reported to the Cambria FireSafe Focus Group on March 8 that during that week, a 14-person crew from Northern California was removing (by hand and “weed wrench”) lots of invasive French broom from various Cambria locations spanning from Bridge Street toward the Camp Yeager area. The broom is a fire risk because the weed can grow tall, spread rapidly and burn hot when dry.

In the Emergency Services Report, the jury wanted CCSD to submit a multiyear plan to address fire management. The jury also wanted the CSD and Cambria Community Healthcare District to begin establishing reserves to update or replace fire and emergency equipment, and to determine how best to combine firefighters and emergency medical services personnel “within a common management organization.”

The district replied that preparation of the plan was delayed by the one-year trial period in which Cal Fire handled management of the Cambria Fire Department. Now that the CSD has opted to keep and manage the independent department, the multiyear plan can be addressed, according to the district reply.

The district has purchased a new fire engine. The CSD also hired three more full-time firefighters, funded initially by a two-year grant.

The health care district responded that it is developing a reserve/asset replacement policy for updating/replacing emergency equipment, including ambulances.

However, no joint agency has been formed, according to the CSD, because legal restrictions remain. The health care district said more study is required.