Based upon a recent public opinion survey, most residents (89%) throughout the region are aware that they are served by the North County Fire Protection District; in fact, 85% are “extremely aware” of this fact.
Perhaps more important, approximately eighty percent (79%) of local residents believe the NCFPD is doing an excellent job at protecting local residents from fire danger and providing emergency medical services; in fact, nearly sixty percent (59%) “strongly agree” with this perception.
Yet, only about half (51%) of residents in the District’s service area are aware of the fact that the NCFPD has been struggling with financial challenges for over a decade; less than one third (30%) said there were “extremely aware” of this fact.
Thus, NCFPD officials concluded that it is imperative to reach out to residents throughout its service area to provide a complete picture of the fire prevention/protection and medical services presently being provided to constituents, INCLUDING the challenges presently facing the District that have to be addressed if the District is to maintain the high level of services presently being delivered through the Agency. Clearly, if these services are allowed to deteriorate, the quality of life for ALL residents throughout this geographic region will be negatively impacted in no small way.
Most of these financial challenges stem from the Great Recession that began in December 2007 and lasted thru June 2009 — which began with the bursting of an
8 trillion dollar housing bubble.
Since the Great Recession, there has been a significant increase in the number of calls for emergency medical service. In order to maintain adequate levels of service, the District was forced to subsidize paramedic ambulance service; in turn, forcing the District to reallocate its available funds. This, in turn, resulted in a significant delay in fire station construction, fire engine & other capital equipment purchases, as well as increasing the District’s deferred facility maintenance.
A recent assessment of the District’s fire protection facilities, including fire stations and firefighting apparatus, documented a need for $26.5 million in order to meet facility standards, alone.
Some of the specific challenges facing the District that need to be addressed in the short-term include the following:
- The existing fire stations have inadequate living and sleeping quarters; for example, during times of emergency (when additional firefighters are brought into the local fire station from outside of Fallbrook to assist in fighting wildfires) many firefighters have to sleep on the floor.
- Fire stations DO NOT have adequate separation of vehicles and equipment from living spaces.
- Several of the existing fire stations ARE NOT earthquake standard compliant.
- Current fire stations do not meet sleeping and privacy needs of the workforce, such as accommodating for workplace diversity, room for training and exercise, insufficient security, and delayed response due to living quarter’s being separate from the fire station.
- Fire stations have inadequate storage space for firefighting equipment.
Beyond the above shortcomings, current funding does not account for the increasing Fallbrook population, nor for meeting emergency response requirements.
NCFPD officials are presently working hard to find ways to address these challenges and shortcomings BEFORE they are forced to cut back on services being provided through the fire district.