Talks begin to merge fire departments

The Colusa City Council and the Board of Directors of the Sacramento River Fire Protection District could begin talks this month to consolidate the two fire departments that serve in and around Colusa. 

Colusa Mayor Greg Ponciano, along with Councilman Dave Markss, will serve on the Fire Department Consolidation Committee to discuss the possible merger. The Sac River Fire board also appointed two of its members to the committee to represent the district. Sacramento River Fire Chief Jeff Winters and Colusa Fire Chief Logan Conley will also be included in the talks, Colusa City Manager Jesse Cain said. 

“We will start having meetings to see if there is a way to consolidate both fire departments into one,” Cain said. 

Although consolidating the two fire agencies has previously been whispered about, the announcement that official talks will soon begin was made public at the Colusa City Council meeting last month. 

Established in 1873 with 34 volunteers, Colusa Fire is the oldest fire department in Colusa County. The department is a combination of paid and volunteer personnel with a budget of about $730,000 a year, with revenue coming from property taxes, sales taxes, transient occupancy taxes, and other revenue.  

Sac River Fire operates on a similar budget, with mostly volunteer firefighters, from revenue obtained from property taxes, special assessments, Indian Gaming Funds, grants, donations, Development Impact Fees, and miscellaneous other revenues.  

Sacramento River Fire Protection District was established in 1997 by consolidating the Colusa County Fire Protection District and the Grand Island Fire Protection District, both established in 1928. 

Officials said consolidating the fire departments could meet the needs of a changing landscape, which includes the eventual annexation into the city of a large amount of Sac River Fire’s protection area, namely the Colusa Industrial Park and the Colusa County Airport. Sac River Fire’s jurisdiction currently includes land along the Sacramento River from the southern boundary of Colusa County almost to the northern boundary. The District consists of land around the City of Colusa and the community of Grimes, and also provides service to the Colusa Indian Community Cachil Dehe Wintun Reservation and the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge.

Sac River Fire operates out of two fire stations, located on Market Street, in Colusa, and Grimes. Colusa Fire operates out of the Market Street station at 8th Street. 

Fire protection in Williams also was the result of consolidation, and operates as a Joint Powers Authority between the City of Williams and the Williams Fire Protection Authority. It’s response area also covers a portion of the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. ■