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Valley Home Station Staffing Levels Remain

Valley Home Station Staffing Levels Remain

Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Chief Rick Weigele announced that there will be no additional ‘brown out’ days at the Valley Home Fire Station, a plan that had been under consideration in favor of moving additional manpower to Knights Ferry. Marg Jackson/The Leader


POSTED September 13, 2017 9:30 a.m.

A ‘Meet Your Chiefs’ session at the Valley Home Fire Station – Station 30 in the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District system – was also expected to include an announcement that the station might be ‘browned out’. At least during the remainder of the current summer fire season, in favor of moving personnel to cover Knights Ferry, Station 29, on a full time basis.

The Wednesday night session, Sept. 6, however, brought an announcement that met with approval from the assembled Valley Home residents. No cut in service. No brown out.

Stanislaus Consolidated Chief Rick Weigele told those attending that the service currently in effect, on a rotating basis between Knights Ferry and Valley Home, will remain intact.

“The proposal we brought to the community a couple months ago has taken on a life of its own,” Weigele admitted of the plan that would have seen the shift in coverage to Knights Ferry, which has seen multiple wildland fires and river rescues this summer.

“We’ve gone back and forth with the fire board and then we sat down to do a risk analysis of what we have here (in Valley Home); we looked at everything, infrastructure, vegetation, schools, facilities,” explained Weigele.

After that assessment, Weigele said he, as the chief, made the decision that the staff will stay with the rotating schedule that has them moving between Knights Ferry and Valley Home, assuring the communities share the coverage 50-50.

“We don’t have a date for a change,” Weigele said of shifting to full coverage in Knights Ferry, “because we’re not going to make a change.

“It’s not going to be open for discussion anymore.”

Much to the relief of Valley Home residents attending, the Station 30 coverage will remain in effect as scheduled, just as the Knights Ferry Station 29 coverage will.

“We have three shifts, A, B, C – B shift is assigned to Station 29 (Knights Ferry) permanently, C shift is assigned to Station 30 (Valley Home) permanently, and the A shift crew rotates every other 48-hour tour between the two stations,” explained Carissa Higginbotham, Deputy Public Information Officer for Stanislaus Consolidated. “We rotate personnel, but the equipment stays at the assigned stations.”

On hand to help facilitate the Wednesday night session was Stanislaus County District 1 Supervisor Kristin Olsen, who represents both Knights Ferry and Valley Home.

Once Weigele assured residents their fire station will stay staffed, questions turned to other matters, including fees for service and the status of Division One North, an area north of Woodward Reservoir that, for years, has not been assessed any taxes or fees for fire protection services.

Officials said that is something they want to see change, but a process has to be followed. They can’t stop responding to calls in that area, despite not receiving any financial support.

Under consideration is also a fee study to raise taxes for the fire protection service in Knights Ferry and Valley Home.

“I think everybody here would be fine with raising taxes a little bit,” said Valley Home resident Winnie Mullins. “A life is worth it.”

Knights Ferry resident Dolly Haskell also addressed the crowd, noting that she was relieved – for the community – that there won’t be a change in coverage.

 

“We were heartbroken for you guys, I want you to know that,” she said of the possibility of Valley Home station being ‘browned out.’ “We didn’t want to see this brown out … emergencies have no sympathies.”

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