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AUBURN, Calif. July 29, 2020 – The Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution yesterday authorizing a $13.6 million CAL FIRE contract, which includes first-time funding for a new fire marshal and provides fire service and medical response to nearly one third of the county. CAL FIRE has been acting as the Placer County Fire Department for nearly 50 years under a cooperative fire protection reimbursement agreement.

The annual contract renewal for fiscal year 2020-21 ensures CAL FIRE will continue to provide year-round fire protection and prevention, and emergency medical response, for approximately 475 square miles of unincorporated county land that is not protected by independent fire districts.  CAL FIRE will also continue its dispatch service and response to all-hazard emergency incidents.

Through CAL FIRE, PCFD serves approximately 57,000 residents with fire service provided by both full-time and volunteer firefighters. The contract pays for 60 full-time firefighters, which make up seven companies that are used to staff the 24-hour operation, seven days a week. Firefighters operate out of three CAL FIRE-owned stations located in Alta, Colfax and Bowman and five county-owned fire stations located in North Auburn, Ophir, Lincoln, the Sunset Area and Dry Creek. 

Approximately 38 volunteers and three resident firefighters also operate out of the eight stations listed above as well as from six community volunteer stations located in Dutch Flat, Paige, Ophir, Thermalands, Dry Creek and Sheridan. 

Placer County also pays to keep CAL FIRE-owned stations operational when they would normally close during the non-fire season. This agreement allows the county and the state to maximize service delivery throughout the PCFD territory.

“Residents should feel confident they have the best fire protection and emergency response possible given the significant resources that are dedicated to CAL FIRE by the State of California,” said CAL FIRE Nevada, Yuba, Placer Unit Chief/ Placer County Fire Department Chief Brian Estes. “This season has been especially challenging as we have seen a significant rise in the number of rescues on our rivers and trails due to an increase of visitors seeking outdoor activity because of the pandemic. Fortunately, our teams are well trained to handle these technical rescues.” 

New to this year’s contract is the addition of a fire marshal position that will oversee the implementation of the county’s updated hazardous vegetation ordinance. The fire marshal will conduct and coordinate inspections and provide supervision for two fire planners. The additional position enables PCFD to ensure compliance with local, state and federal fire codes to safeguard the community from destructive wildfire.

“The updated ordinance requires residents to be diligent when it comes to ensuring there is 100 feet of defensible space from all structures during fire season,” said District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes. “The new fire marshal will be responsible for making sure all residents clear their property so that firefighters can properly defend our homes.”     

The FY 2020-21 contract is $546,000 more than the previous year and fully funds fire services for residents whose annual assessment fees do not cover the complete cost of services.