Tuesday, May 11, 2021

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Fire department merger takes step forward

The move toward consolidating the Colusa Fire Department with the Sacramento River Fire Protection District has been going so well, the Colusa City Council last week approved an automatic aid agreement that would allow the agencies to cross jurisdictional boundaries. 

City officials said that under the agreement authorized May 21, the strict boundaries the two departments have maintained for about 30 years will cease to exist during certain emergency conditions, and would serve as the trial run for a permanent merger. 

“This is going to give us a picture of what consolidation would look like for us operationally,” said Colusa Fire Chief Logan Conley. 

Conley said the agreement would cover a six-month trial period to see how fire personnel from the two agencies work together and to collect data on response times. 

Colusa Fire and Sac Fire have had a mutual aid agreement the past three years, but the new agreement would allow for either agency to respond to an emergency in either jurisdiction, which Conley said would likely improve response time and be beneficial to both departments and the community. 

“I’m actually looking forward to it,” Conley said, adding that he was honored to work with veteran fire chief Jeff Winters, manager of the Sacramento Fire Protection District. 

The Colusa Fire Department was formed in 1873. 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. 

Chief Winters said automatic aid agreements between fire agencies have become more common as coverage areas become bigger due to growth and development. 

“I think it will work well,” Winters said. “I’ve worked with (Conley) on projects that we have been doing together. We seem to work really well together.”

Winters also agreed that crossing jurisdictional boundaries would allow firefighters to provide better service to the community. 

“A quicker service, I think,” he said. 

Colusa Mayor Greg Ponciano said it was refreshing to see the two fire departments work so well together toward a permanent blending of the two into one agency, however long the process. 

“I think it’s great,” he said. 

Conley said the budget impact for the agreement is not yet known, due to the nature of the business and the type and frequency of automatic responses. ■

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