Meeting Summary

Humboldt County Fire Safe Council

May 19, 2003


Previous Menu

Member Attendance
Public Representatives
Coordinator Attending
Progress Review
Funding Presentation
Education and Training Presentation
Plan Review
Public Input
Next Meeting

The fifth meeting of the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council (FSC) was held on May 19, 2003, from 1:00 P.M. to 4:30 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:

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

Debra Lake, Fruitland Volunteer Fire Department, Board Chair

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

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

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

Fire Safe Council Members Absent:

Gary Risling, Hoopa Fire Department, Wildlands Fire Manager

Frank Hizer, Fortuna Fire Protection District, Fire Chief

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

Public and Agency Representatives Attending:

Tracy Katelman, Lower Mattole Fire Safe Council

Kevin OíNeil, CDF District Chief

Kim Price, CDF Fire Captain and Pre-fire Planner

Eric Smith, City of Eureka Fire Department 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

Ethan Casaday, Planwest Partners, Planner

Call to Order and Introductions

The Fire Safe Council Coordinator, George Williamson, called the meeting to order at 1:10 P.M. and the Council members and the audience made self introductions.


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 April 7, 2003, FSC meeting (Attachment 1). No revisions were made. Next, the Coordinator presented a table showing survey responses and the districts which have not yet responded. The Coordinator informed the group that the county is still pursuing a 100% response from Fire Districts. Dave White invited the coordinator to the Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association meeting to speak about obtaining 100% response to surveys. He also mentioned a change in management in Samoa and suggested trying them again. Debra Lake reported that the Miranda Chief was not aware of the survey.

A general discussion followed which included important topics related to the Master Fire Protection Plan (MFPP) process. Glenn Ziemer asked if a timetable exists for the GIS information and maps. He described the need for this information by early fall if possible because ISO surveys are being conducted and it would be helpful to avoid a duplication of effort. Glen pointed out the divergence between the regulations and money available, and that regulations are outstripping the financial resources of small and moderate sized fire departments.

Kevin OíNeil discussed the issue of new standards for Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). He discussed new requirements for fit testing and reported that there could be liability issues if testing is not occurring. He pointed out that the standards are currently voluntary but at some time in the future may become mandatory, and this would be a substantial commitment especially for small departments. Eric Smith discussed issues related to the expense of buying new equipment and testing old equipment. He discussed current safety compliance issues and informed the FSC that more fire regulations are coming. He recommended that FSC members read an article on the web at, that details a case of OSHA looking at training, physicals, face fit testing and other safety issues.

Other issues discussed were the aging Office of Emergency Services (OES) equipment and insurance costs for fire departments. One change that may affect local districts is availability of federal excess fire engines, which are loaned by CDF to local departments. Many of these vehicles are old, and hard to find parts for, even though they have low hours of operation. New standards may put this equipment out of service if it does not meet safety standards. Secondly, insurance for fire departments is approximately $700 per person and the new policies require that every firefighter be named in the policy. The cost of insuring a large number of volunteers is very difficult if not impossible.


Fire Protection Funding Special Presentation

The next topic of discussion on the agenda was a presentation by Glen Ziemer about funding for fire protection services. The presentation was regarding State Proposition 172 which was intended to provide funding for fire protection, but funding was never allocated to the fire departments. Instead, in Humboldt County these State allocated funds were allocated to the Sheriffs department, jail, and district attorneys office. The presentation focused on a proposal that would be made to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to reallocate 7 % of the funds to Humboldt County Fire districts.

Following the presentation, Glen asked the FSC to draft a letter of support to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors asking them to support reallocation of funds to the Fire Districts. A motion was made to support Glenís request and was seconded. A vote was made on the subject and all voting members were in favor of the proposal. A consensus was made to prepare a letter to the Board of Supervisors supporting the Humboldt County Fire Chiefs proposal to reallocate 7 % of the proposition 172 funds to the fire districts because it in consistent with Objective 6.2 Fire Plan. The letter will be delivered to Dave White for review and distribution to the Board.

Discussion of this issue included questions about the relationship between the FSCís directive and its ability to support the proposal, political issues, and relationship to the MFPP. Kevin OíNeil asked why the fire organizations were not part of the original funding from Proposition 172 money. Kirk Gothier asked if the proposal was getting resistance. He also was concerned that the FSC needed to stay within the County charter and any letter should be within the scope of the planning process. Tracy Katelman made a point that people should go to the Board meeting when they discuss the issue. She was also interested in discussing how the FSC would continue after the planning process. She discussed the need to point out to the county that money will be made available for mitigation after the plan is completed.

Presentation on Office of Education Training Program

The next topic of discussion on the agenda was a training program being developed by the Humboldt County Office of Education. The presentation by Eric Smith discussed the importance of developing a list of training needs so the Office of Education can prepare a firemanís training program. The office will set up a modular training program that could focus on training for safety procedures, operation of fire equipment, and fire suppression techniques. He described the training program as an opportunity for local fire agency staff to meet new federal standards.

Discussion following this presentation included other training opportunities, compliance with federal standards, and the Fire Safe plan coverage of training. Council members reported that CDF is starting to incorporate federal standards but the state of California has not made any official show of support. FSC members reported the Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association has bought into the federal standards, but many of the volunteer departments are not able to meet them. The FSC was in consensus on the need for the planning process to include interviews with the Training Officers of the various departments. The Humboldt County Fire Instructors President, Lon Winber was recommended as the best contact regarding training needs. In addition, the topic of Fire Safety Volunteers was discussed to provide some source of information on the existing conditions of sites and for a regulatory approach to making new developments fire safe.

Master Fire Protection Plan Preparation Outline Review

Bob Burnham presented an overview of the Draft Master Fire Protection Plan Outline. He pointed out that the plan was evolving and that the outline integrates several elements together to form the Plan. The introduction in chapter 1 contains the plans goals and objectives, and although these had been reviewed at the previous meetings, they were discussed in depth by the FSC during the meeting.

The FSC discussed the need for ongoing as well as current fire prevention support. The desired level of fire protection was listed as an addition to the fire protection levels objective in chapter 1. (MFPP Chapter 1, Objective 3.4)

In addition to levels of support, the FSC was interested in looking at the commitment of resources that would be required to change the fire service in different areas. For example, given the limited amount of money for fire protection, what areas would get the best increase for the least amount of money? The FSC also recommended that the plan include ISO data.

Debra Lake reported that the Fruitland Fire department requested an ISO inspection to help determine the fire protection level of the district. The inspection took about a year to occur, however, after the inspector looked over the fire equipment and the stations records and changed the ISO rating from a rating of 10 (no fire protection) down to a rating of 9.

Kevin OíNeil suggested that another area of concern was responding to calls to communities not in a fire protection district. In some cases this becomes a burden on the adjacent fire departments who respond to calls outside of their district. This can cause increased costs and takes the equipment and crews away from their primary service area.

Tracy Katelman suggested that Title 3 money as well as Proposition 172 money should be used for fire protection districts. Tracy suggested that Sungnome Madrone be contacted regarding the uses of Title 2 verses title 3 money for possible expenditure on fire protection. The majority of Title 3 money currently goes to the Sheriffs department. Tracy was also interested in requesting that the County continue to provide technical support to fire safe councils by donating maps and staff time.

Kevin OíNeil suggested that the County needs to require that fire protection be available for any new significant developments. He described an example in which a fuel storage area was approved adjacent to a state highway in an area with no fire protection. This could cause serious safety and economic impact if a fire occurred at this site. Lucy Salazar suggested that the plan define "Fire Safe" and be sure people know the difference between fire safe standards and being safe from fire.

Other suggestions include:

  • Noting the difference between fire safe councils and fire departments,
  • Adding Dispatch and Hazmat team to list of groups,
  • Discuss alternative funding mechanisms,
  • Break out volunteer from non-government agencies,
  • The importance of having public involvement in the process.
  • Including a cross-referencing that compares the document to the template.
  • Inclusion of the Plan into the Humboldt County General Plan.
  • Looking at the Shoshone County model which characterized sites by ignition history.
  • Following these discussions, Bob Burnham read through Chapter 3, 4, 5, and 6 with few comments or additions. The Coordinator then described the remaining planning process which will include writing a draft plan, and providing the FSC with a copy 2 weeks before the next meeting. The next meeting will be a presentation and initial discussion of the draft plan.


    Public Input

    Tracy informed the Council that the Statewide Fire Safe Council would like to meet in Humboldt County this fall. She was going to report to them that early November would be a good time.

    Will Harling reported back from the National Fire Safe Council Conference in Lake Tahoe. He reported that money is in the pipeline for local fire safe councils, and that groups organized under a county wide council will have the best opportunity for funding.

    Next Meeting

    The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Monday, September 15, 2003, from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. to be held at the USFS Six Rivers National Forest conference room. The meeting date will be dependent on the availability of a Draft MFPP.


    The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4:30 P.M.