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Rewards, hurdles in northern Sonoma County fire merger

  • San Antonio volunteer firefighter Matt Pelo yells for more water as he battles a blaze at the Sonoma Pacific Co. on Highway 121 near Eighth Street East on Sunday, September 8, 2013 in Sonoma, California. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

If approved, it would be the largest fire service merger in modern county history. Supporters say the idea is born of a dire need.

Cloverdale and Geyserville districts are struggling with tighter budgets, fewer volunteers and increasing calls for help. Those two agencies and Healdsburg's department all work together so much in their expansive corner of the county that it seems like common sense to join forces, Cloverdale Fire Chief Jason Jenkins said.

"Cloverdale, Geyserville and Healdsburg were looking at opportunities to share resources and provide a stronger volunteer workforce for our community," Jenkins said.

The other entity involved is the Knights Valley Volunteer Fire Department, overseen by Sonoma County's Fire and Emergency Services Department.

The four outfits are working on the idea with Sonoma County officials under the guidance of the county's Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees expansions of government boundaries. A six-month study commissioned by LAFCO is expected in May. Recommended results would range from doing nothing to a partial merger to all-out consolidation.

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