Healdsburg council won't disband fire department

  • Healdsburg Fire Department Engineer Dan Zimmerman, left, Engineer Kevin Hadrich go through drills at the Healdsburg fire station in Healdsburg on Tuesday, March, 19, 2013.

    (Scott Manchester/The Press Democrat)

For 155 years, Healdsburg has had its own fire department and, despite recent funding struggles, it appears it won't be going away anytime soon.

The City Council this week quickly dismissed the possibility of Cal Fire, the state agency, taking over fire duties in the city.

The thought of losing control to the state "is disconcerting," said Councilman Jim Wood. "I want to see Healdsburg on the (uniform) patches."

Gary Plass reflected the sentiments of his fellow council members when he said contracting out fire services to the state "is a dead issue."

The idea of out-sourcing firefighting duties to the state emerged in a report prepared by Healdsburg Fire Chief Steve Adams to assess options and alternatives for the delivery of fire services.

While council members rejected the notion of Cal Fire taking over that role in Healdsburg, they did encourage Adams to explore some form of shared services with neighboring fire departments.

"Regionalization is the way to go," said Mayor Susan Jones. "Not that I don't like Cal Fire. They have airplanes," she said, adding that air attacks helped quell a fire near her neighborhood of Parkland Farms, on the city's northern outskirts.

"I also want to see familiar faces of the men and women who stayed with us through tough times," she said in reference to the Healdsburg Fire Department employees.

In budget hearings last year, the City Council acknowledged the fire department is operating at minimum staffing levels.

"Currently, diminished funding sources and increasing employee costs are pitted against numerous workplace mandates and demand for services," Fire Chief Steve Adams told the City Council on Monday.

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