Tonight, a special joint meeting between the boards of directors for Penn Valley and Rough&Ready Fire Protection Districts will be a first step to contemplate a consolidation or a merger of the two rural fire departments. Prompted by Rough&Ready FPD’s financial situation, the two boards will explore if consolidation could be the answer.
Penn Valley Fire Chief Don Wagner said, “To date, there have been a couple of informal meetings between two R&R Board members, me and the PV Board Chairperson on the possibility of a merger/consolidation. So, this will be the first meeting of both full Boards to meet and discuss if they want to move forward with the process.” If there is mutual interest, they could appoint a committee and formally begin the process.
The meeting will take place today, August 24th starting at 6:30 pm at Penn Valley FPD Station No. 43 located at 10513 Spenceville Road in Penn Valley.
About the two fire districts
Penn Valley’s district covers 92 square miles and provides ambulance service. They operate three fire stations, two of which are currently staffed twenty-four hours a day with a minimum of two personnel.
Rough&Ready covers approximately 9 square miles and operates one fire station, four to five days a week according to their board minutes from July 12th. The district currently has no permanent Fire Chief and operates mostly with part-time volunteers.
In April, Rough&Ready Fire Protection District (RRFPD) knew their financial picture was anything but rosy. At the time, Directors Doug Wittler and Tom Nelson admitted that after paying all the past-due obligations, “we basically have a zero budget now.” Chairman Sheridan Loungway added the board was reaching out to neighboring fire districts and that residents of the district were still fully covered, be that through direct response by Rough and Ready or mutual aid from Penn Valley or Nevada County Consolidated. “We are not closing our doors.”
In July, the district’s board posted a short statement on their website announcing “To ensure fiscal stability, the Rough and Ready Fire Protection District is temporarily suspending staffing two days out of the week on a rotating basis, beginning July 15th.”
The statement also promised little to no delays in response, thanks to mutual aid agreements with neighboring districts, namely Penn Valley, Grass Valley and Nevada County Consolidated. The additional strain on the neighboring departments was discussed at a Grass Valley City Council meeting where council members voiced concerns about out of district responses without compensation.