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City, fire departments studying quicker responses

Fire Chief Fred Cox stands next to one of the department's fire trucks. (Stephen M. Corley/ The Daily Triplicate).
Fire Chief Fred Cox stands next to one of the department's fire trucks. (Stephen M. Corley/ The Daily Triplicate).

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

A quicker way for crews to respond to fires across district boundaries is being discussed between Crescent City officials and the Crescent Fire Protection District.

If the discussions are successful, a new cooperation between the firefighters will mean quicker responses and less damage to structures when fires erupt, according to Crescent City City Manager Dave Wells.

"What it really comes down to is we're talking about how we are - and can - work together, but this is all very preliminary at this stage," Wells said yesterday.

The discussion of mutual aid and automatic aid between the fire departments began last month as a byproduct of the Roosevelt tract annexation under way by the city.

The Roosevelt tract, named after the water district that serves it, is a highly developed portion of the county that will be removed from the jurisdiction of the Crescent Fire Protection District after the annexation to the city.

"In a way, it began with that," said Wells. "It started with a letter and then a meeting. We had the meeting and we discussed several different levels of joint cooperation in a free-flowing discussion."

Wells said the first level being discussed will involve joint training and general meetings between the two departments. This way the firefighters can become acquainted with their counterparts on both a professional and social basis.

"Although they are trained in much the same manner, there may be slight differences in how they work together," Wells said. "The main thing is they get the equipment they need, they are well-trained and they are comfortable with their jobs and they enjoy it."

Wells said joint training sessions are currently being arranged. The second level will involve working out mutual aid and automatic aid between the departments.

"This is where one department may have units closer to a fire although it is not in their jurisdiction," Wells said. "So the first response may come from the other department while the other follows up."

Wells said the third level of cooperation may involve joint management for the departments.

"It would be a management structure that might eventually become a governing body to deal with both departments, but that's way off in the future," he said.

Wells was quick to mention that no plans have been made for these second and third levels, but he said the idea is an important one for the area.

"The mutual aid concept is so important in our county because of our isolation," he said. "Not just for fires, but for the earthquake and tsunami potential. It's important because disasters like these can happen and we need to be able to stand alone."

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