Meeting Summary

Humboldt County Fire Safe Council

April 7, 2003

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Members Attending
Members Absent
Others Present
Progress Review
Service Capabilities
Bob Burnham: Needs Assessment Presentation
MFPP Preparation Schedule
Education Activities
Larry Karsteadt: Emergency Medical Services Presentation
Other Discussion
Next Meeting

The fourth meeting of the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council (FSC) was held on April 7, 2003, from 1:00 P.M. to 4:05 P.M., at the U.S. Forest Service Six Rivers National Forest conference room, 1330 Bayshore Way, Eureka, California. The FSC was appointed by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to guide preparation of the County Master Fire Protection Plan (Fire {Plan).

Fire Safe Council Members Attending:

Dick Goings, Cal. Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) Unit Chief and County Fire Warden

Kirk Gothier, Humboldt County Community Development Services, Assistant Planning Director

Frank Hizer, Fortuna Fire Protection District, Fire Chief

Debra Lake, Fruitland Volunteer Fire Department, Board Chair

Glenn Ziemer, Humboldt Fire District #1, Assistant Fire Chief

Lucy Salazar, USFS, Six Rivers National Forest, Vegetation Management & Air Coordinator

Ian Sigman, Honeydew Volunteer Fire Company and Lower Mattole Fire Safe Council

Dave White, Arcata Fire Department and Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association Representative

Fire Safe Council Members Absent:

Will Harling, Orleans/Somers Bar Fire Safe Council and Orleans Fire & Rescue

Gary Risling, Hoopa Fire Department, Wildlands Fire Manager

Public and Agency Representatives Attending:

Yvonne Everet, Humboldt State University, Dept. of Natural Resources, Professor

Laura Chapman, USFS, Six Rivers National Forest, Rural Community Assistance Coordinator

Tracy Katelman, Lower Mattole Fire Safe Council

Dan Larkin, Humboldt County Sherrif Dept. OES Program Coordinator

Kevin O’Neil, CDF District Chief

Kim Price, CDF Fire Captain and Pre-fire Planner

Ben Riggan, Program Director for Orleans/Somes Bar Fire Safe Council

Hugh Scanlon, CDF Fire Planning and Prevention Batalion Chief

Eric Smith, City of Eureka Fire Department Chief

Kent Swartzlander, USFS Deputy Chief

County Fire Safe Council Coordinator / Master Fire Protection Plan Consultant

George Williamson, Planwest Partners, Principal Planner (Fire Safe Council Coordinator)

Bob Burnham, RNB Spatial Data Inc., Chief Operations Officer

Cris Plocher, Planwest Partners, Planner

Call to Order and Introductions

The meeting was called to order at 1:00 P.M. by the Fire Safe Council Chair, Dick Goings and self introductions were made by the Council members and the audience.

Progress Review

The FSC Coordinator reviewed the April meeting agenda. Each FSC member received an information packet prior to the FSC meeting and interested parties were e-mailed meeting notices. The Coordinator asked the FSC members to review the meeting summary of the March 10, 2003, FSC meeting (Attachment 1). Several revisions were made. Next, the Coordinator asked for assistance from the FSC members to encourage local fire organizations to respond to the fire survey. Those who have responded so far to the fire survey were identified (Attachment 2), which total 23 responses out 42 possible. Jim Robertson, CDF Southern Humboldt Battalion Chief, has offered to assist in gathering responses from Southern Humboldt Fire Chiefs, and has invited the Coordinator to discuss the fire survey at the next meeting of the Southern Humboldt Fire Chiefs meeting on April 16th. Local Fire Organization responses are important for updating the fire service area maps, identifying service capabilities, and gathering basic fire organization/resource information to promote coordination and communication.

A FSC member mentioned it would be very helpful if County could provide better mapping that shows where existing dwelling are located on a map. Another person mentioned that maps would be even more useful if they showed where bridges are too weak to cross or turn-arounds are difficult to maneuver. Incorporating this kind of information from the community input process is key to better maps. She also suggested that Humboldt County FSC conduct workshops in key areas to collect this kind of detailed information.

A FSC member noted that many homes in the Honeydew area are not constructed according to building code. Some discussion ensued about there being less code enforcement for rural compared to urban construction with regard to permitting. Humboldt County has a Fire Ordinance (4290) in place that was approved by CDF for reviewing residential development in rural areas. Humboldt County Fire District #1 is one of the reviewing agency for proposed building permits.

The Coordinator asked the FSC members what should the County be doing with regard to fire code and permitting of buildings? Currently, the County Building Department is doing the review and inspection of building permits. A FSC member suggested having fire departments involved with reviewing and inspecting building permits and enforcing fire ordinances. Currently, building inspection for compliance with fire code ordinance is not charged a fee. Charging a fee for this service could improve the quality of building inspections, though not all FSC members agreed charging a fee is the best course of action. Charging a fee for building inspections is common in southern California, where the county has a contract with CDF to perform thorough building inspections. Another person mentioned that there is state level discussion of creating fire safe inspectors.


Fire Protection Service Capabilities

The next topic of discussion on the agenda was fire protection service capabilities. On March 20, a meeting was held to discuss the progress on fire district boundary mapping. Those in attendance were Hugh Scanlon (CDF), Kirk Gothier and Chinmaya Lewis (Humboldt County), and also George Williamson and Cris Plocher (Planwest Partners). The discussion included the important issue of identifying the needs of local fire organizations. The CDF Fire Planning staff agreed to draft a list of the most basic important needs. Items identified include:

Active members Funding Sources

Fire Fighters Regular Training

EMS First Responders/EMTs/Medics Fire, Rescue, EMS, HazMat

Command Staff Communications

Apparatus (Type, Age, Condition) Dispatch / Incident Notification

Adequate Equipment Service Area (Jurisdiction)

Fire, Rescue, EMS Personal Protective Gear

Fire Stations for Apparatus Storage and Training

Kirk Gothier emphasized the importance of identifying the level of fire service and approach, in addition to mapping fire service areas, to be used as a planning tool and benefit/enhance fire service. Dave White mentioned that the Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association appointed a committee to review level of service identification and approach. He will keep the FSC updated on the committee’s progress.

The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) Municipal Service Review Guidelines were discussed. Kirk Gothier noted the importance of knowing what the mandates are for Municipal Service Reviews and Spheres of Influence reporting. LAFCO Guidelines Chapter 8 is particularly pertinent to fire service. Those interested in getting a copy can contact Kirk Gothier or the FSC Coordinator.

A FSC member suggested using existing Insurance Services Office (ISO) information/data, which can be a good starting point for identifying available fire-service related information. It was cautioned by another FSC member that some of the ISO data may not be the most up to date.

The FSC Coordinator discussed fire planning/prevention information he received at a recent American Planning Association conference. A variety of informative materials, including special reports, were provided. The Coordinator would be glad to share these reports with those who are interested and will send links and contact information for these publications. One of the main fire planning and prevention trends conveyed at the conference was the focus on fire education and fire prevention/mitigation programs instead of developing fire service standards.


Presentation on Needs Assessment by Bob Burnham

Bob Burnham, with RNB Spatial Data, presented information on the topic of Needs Assessment. He noted that a fire survey was sent out to all local fire organizations last February that was designed to be easy to respond to and have a quantitative approach to collecting basic local fire organization information. Survey questions involved organizational structure, number of employees/firefighters, training, equipment/fire stations, and mapping of service area and mutual aid agreements. Mr. Burnham noted that there has been a need identified by CDF to create a more qualitative survey addressing fire service capabilities and needs. In response to this he is in the process of preparing a Fire Protection Capability and Needs Assessment survey.

Discussion followed the presentation. It was noted that it will be important for the fire chiefs to review the next fire survey. Tracy Katelman mentioned that the Lower Mattole FSC held community meetings on defensible space/fire prevention in 8 areas. Participants were asked to prioritize fire related projects and fire prevention ideas. The Lower Mattole FSC also prepared two sets of maps from information obtained from community meetings, with the provision that map information would be confidential. She also noted that Trinity County is doing an event called the "Big Red Truck". Funding was received from the Resource Advisory Council for fire organizations to talk to home owners about defensible space and to fill out a survey.


Master Fire Protection Plan Preparation Schedule

The Coordinator reported the Fire Plan is proceeding on schedule. He suggested having one additional meeting in late May to review the detailed Fire Plan outline and its framework. Then a Draft Fire Plan will be prepared around October of 2003 at the time when FSC meetings will start up again. The Draft Fire Plan will undergo a public review process with community meetings, followed by revisions to the Draft Plan. The Fire Plan will be finalized in March of 2004.

Tracy Katelman is a member of the California Fire Plan Work Group and provided an update of the Group’s progress in developing a Local Fire Plan Template. She handed out the first draft of the Template Outline and assured the FSC that it is not intended to be overwhelming. In the near future, the Working Group will be refining the Plan Outline to include three priority levels. Tracy will keep the FSC updated on the Working Group’s progress.

A FSC member expressed concern that this Fire Plan planning process will generate paper and maps, but local fire organizations will still be left with needing basic resources to operate, such as new tires for the fire truck. He would like to see implementation recommendations that really help local fire organizations, such as funding sources to meet the needs identified. Kirk Gothier responded that if the FSC does a good job, needs will be identified and the ways to meet them. The Coordinator added that there will be tools identified in the Fire Plan to meet the needs identified. Bob Burnham mentioned there are a variety of sources for funding initiatives, such as the Rural Fire Assistance federal program. One would not be able to receive funding until a plan is developed. Fire plans will open the door to grants and will help local fire organizations plan to use the funds.

Another FSC member noted that sufficient time to pursue grants is a critical factor. He has to change the tires on the fire truck before pursuing grants. He would like to see an outreach agency to apply for funding on behalf of local fire organization or a central clearinghouse for sharing equipment, funding, etc. Ongoing participation by the County in fire planning should be an important goal to pursue such things as information exchange and funding applications. Another person mentioned that since the Humboldt County FSC is a temporary entity (ending in March of 2004, unless extended by the Board of Supervisors), there is a need for an ongoing body countywide to coordinate fire safety planning and coordination.


Fire Planning and Educational Activities

Laura Chapman provided an update on the upcoming Firewise Workshop. An application will be made to the California Fire Alliance and the Firewise Council for workshop funds. The application is due by May 1 and we should know the results by June 1. The workshop will be 2 ˝ days for participants and the registration fee may range between $35 and $50 (lunch provided). Potential workshop dates are in October / November of this year. There will be pre-workshop training for meeting leaders and GIS operators. She is looking for volunteers to serve as meeting leaders and GIS operators and also donations for workshop scholarship funds. Ms. Chapman also will need a list of invitees for the workshop.

Tracy Katelman mentioned she contacted the news media about seeking their interest in doing a fire protection story in conjunction with Fire Safety Week. They plan on running stories around the first week of May.

The Coordinator provided an update on the "Living With Fire" newspaper insert and referred to the draft copy of the article provided in the meeting packet. He listed the contributors to the news insert, which currently totals $9,100. The article is due to the Times Standard by April 7, final proofing will be done April 14, then it will go to the printers on April 20, papers will be ready on April 27, and placed in the Sunday newspaper prior to Fire Safety Week (May 5-11). About 40,000 copies will be made.


Presentation by Larry Karsteadt

Larry Karsteadt, Executive Director of the North Coast Emergency Medical Services (NCEMS), gave a presentation on the mission and responsibilities of the NCEMS. The agency is overseen by a Governing Board composed of representative from each of three counties, Del Norte, Humboldt, and Lake Counties (Mendocino County withdrew). It has been functioning on behalf of these counties since 1975 under a joint powers organization. Initial set-up 0funding came from the National EMS grant. Thereafter, the State of California Emergency Medical Services Authority has been the primary source of funding for NCEMS since 1980. State revenue is matched locally by a combination of county shares, county EMS Fund (SB 612), certification fees, and the Bertha Russ Lytel Foundation grant.

The goal of the NCEMS is to reduce death and disability from injury or illness through coordination of the EMS system. Organizations that make up the EMS system include: medical dispatch providers, fire services, first responder agencies, ambulance services, emergency departments and hospitals. Numerous individuals and organizations also provide training, administrative and technical support.

NCEMS responsibilities include the following:

Planning, implementation and evaluation of the regional EMS system;

EMS quality improvement program oversight;

Development of policies and protocols for establishing and supervising the Limited Advanced Life Support (LALS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS) services (i.e., Emergency Medical Technician-I, EMT-II, Paramedic and Mobile Intensive Care Nurse);

Authorization of first responder, early defibrillation and LALS/ALS service providers (59 providers);

Monitoring and approval of 36 EMS training programs and 39 continuing education programs;

Certification, authorization and accreditation of over 1,275 EMS personnel;

Designation of seven Base Hospitals and six Emergency Departments Approved for Pediatrics;

Participation in process to develop statewide EMS standards;

Collection of prehospital EMS data, which uses high speed technology to transfer information from the field.

NCEMS is involved in other special projects, which include:

Rural outreach training

Received 2 year funding for a program to identify EMS needs/resources in rural areas

Improving medical aid for pre-hospital EMT

Develop trauma plan for the three county area

Completed the Regional EMS System five year plan

Enhance medical preparations for the predicated magnitude of 8.4 seismic event that could occur along our coast (the Cascadia Subduction Zone)

Initiated the highway call box program

Purchased and upgraded the Med-Net communications system

Assisted with initiating an Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) program that trained numerous dispatchers to manage medical 9-1-1 calls

Discussion followed about the loss of the ambulance service due to loss of funding for the southern Humboldt region around Garberville. Currently, there are three ambulance services left in Humboldt County.

About 33 percent of responses are due to trauma (i.e., vehicle/motorcycle accidents) and the rest are cardiac and medical. The question was asked whether local fire organizations are involved in providing trauma services. All fire organizations have the authority to be provide trauma services. Bob Burnham referred to the Humboldt County LAFCO Procedures manual which states that fire protection districts may provide services that include: fire protection, ambulance , emergency medical, rescue, and hazardous material emergency response, in addition to fire protection services.

A FSC member suggested that the topics of EMS and HazMat should be included in the Master Fire Protection Plan, in addition to the County’s General Plan Safety Element. He would also like to see the County Department of Public Health be invited to participate in the EMS/HazMat planning and discussions.

A FSC member asked whether the County General Plan and the Fire Plan include the emergency medical services component? Bob Burnham referred to the Humboldt County LAFCO Procedures report, which specifically authorizes that component.


Public Input/Other Input

A FSC member noted a correction needed to be made to the County’s Framework Plan (Volume 1, 1985), Chapter 4, regarding the FSC proposed new Policy #6 to say:

Assist local fire organizations with securing sufficient fire fighting funds for resources such as equipment, communications, training, education, and operations to fight fires respond to emergencies (including mechanical, chemical, and biological).

A FSC member informed that he has heard of a study performed by a Minnesota professor that reported prescribed burning is not as effective as fuel breaks. This information was through the National Forestry Council. Ben Riggan offered FSC members to come visit their projects at Orleans Somes Bar that show how effective fuel breaks, prescribed burning, and other fire prevention projects are to their communities.


Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 19, 2003, from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. to be held at the USFS Six Rivers National Forest conference room.


The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4:05 P.M.