Meeting Summary  

Humboldt County Fire Safe Council

November 10, 2003

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The seventh meeting of the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council (FSC) was held on November 10, 2003, from 1:00 P.M. to 4:15 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:

Fire Safe Council Members Absent:

Public and Agency Representatives Attending:

Hugh Scanlon, CDF Battalion Chief

County Fire Safe Council Coordinator / Master Fire Protection Plan Consultant


Call to Order and Introductions

The Fire Safe Council Coordinator, George Williamson, called the meeting to order at 1:03 P.M. and the Council members and the audience made self introductions.


Fire Planning and Educational Activities

The Wildlife Society: Fire Ecology & Resource Management Conference. Lucy Salazar described a recent conference in Arcata on fire ecology and fire management. The conference was attended by university researchers, resource agency staff, timber industry, and community organizers.

Burning Issues. Kevin O’Neil described the Burning Issues meeting in southern Humboldt.

Firewise Workshop. The FSC Coordinated provided an update on preparations for the upcoming Firewise Workshop.



Fire Safe Council Review and Planning Update

The FSC Coordinator reviewed the October meeting agenda. Each FSC member received an information packet, containing the FSC Draft Humboldt County Master Fire Protection Plan, 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 October 20, 2003, FSC meeting. No revisions were made.

Fire Organization Survey. To date, 37 of 42 local, state, and federal fire organizations have completed the second survey.

FSC Draft Fire Plan. As a follow-up to the October meeting and the discussion regarding "Fire Management" vs. "Fire Protection" (Section 1.4), Lucy Salazar requested that the MFPP address both.

Overview of Fire Safe Council Draft of Master Fire Protection Plan. The FSC Coordinator summarized the portions of the MFFP that were discussed in the prior meeting and what the FSC should complete today.

Robert Burnham, RNB Spatial Data, resumed the discussion of Chapter 3 "Community Fire Risk & Capabilities Assessment." Mr. Burnham emphasized the need to finalize the Planning Compartment boundaries so the risk assessment and capabilities evaluation could be completed.

The FSC broke into smaller groups to review planning compartment maps. Lucy Salazar led the group evaluation of compartments in the north County and Ian Sigman and Debra Lake led the evaluation of the south County.

The FSC came to agreement on amendments to the planning compartment boundaries after approximately one hour.

Findings and Recommendations. The FSC Coordinator led a discussion of the findings and recommendations contained in Chapter 4. The following is a list of comments received during the presentation:

The terms "department" and "district" should be defined and used appropriately.

In addition to the above terms, the terms "rural’, "urban", "ad valorum", "property tax", and "assessment" should be defined.

Departments are not "static". They change over time, in terms of volunteer members, funding, etc.

(K. Gothier) SB 1049 mentions CDF responsibilities, how do we cover this in the Plan.

(K. O’Neil) There will be no operational changes. The only changes in the future relate to employee bargaining agreements and the hours of work for which CDF employees will be paid beginning in 2006.

(G. Ziemer) What does "support" mean in relation to recommendations. This term is passive and disingenuous. Fire departments have had trouble with the County planning process in the past in improving fire stations.

(K. O’Neil) There is no representative of the Board of Supervisors in this group to consent.

(K. Gothier) The decision makers cannot take part in this process, the Board has appointed the FSC to develop policy recommendations, and the Board will take action upon completion of the Plan. The recommendations must be specific and must be realistic if you want them to be adopted.

(Y. Everett) In Trinity County they have staff grant writers to support their activities.

(D. Lake) The costs associated with getting an assessment or LAFCO action approved can be as much as $80,000. We need recommendations to simplify the process.

(K. Gothier) We cannot recommend changes in State law as a part of this process (LAFCOs are governed by Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act) or the Coastal Act.

(K. O’Neil) The County needs to have a more active role in fire protection.

(K. Gothier) The FSC needs to look at new revenue sources.

(Y. Everett) RAC funding could be useful. A recommendation could be to set aside RAC funding for this process.

(D. Larkin) The recommendations are general and the needs are specific.

(G. Ziemer) "Motherhood" language is disingenuous and strains credibility. The process doesn’t facilitate a "real world" outcome.

(K. O’Neil) If we do a good job it will lead to something tangible and substantial. We must have a valid and impartial Plan to improve things.

(D. Lake) Even being here is a step in the right direction. I have seen big change. At least we have a toe in the door.

(D. Larkin) I have been here for five years, and agree with G. Zeimer, I feel that this plan is significant.

(K. O’Neil) The role of the Humboldt County Fire Chief’s Association (HCFCA) and the County Fire Warden should be delineated. The Plan should also define a future role for these entities. It may be better to just "support" and leave the HCFCA out of the recommendations – The County of Humboldt should take the lead.

(D. Lake) The County has longevity, no the HCFCA.

(D. Larkin) By putting the HCFCA in the recommendation you give the County an "out."

(H. Scanlon) CDF is not the only fire protection agency in the SRA, there are also local departments and the USFS.

(D. Lake) Departments put a lot of work into fund raising. There is a substantial opportunity cost associated with the time devoted to fund raising.

(Y. Everett) list the costs associated with essential items, such as insurance (all types), personal protective equipment, apparatus, etc.

Differential funding between all-volunteer (bake sale) departments, districts, and cities.

(D. White) The Samoa Pulp Mill assessment appeal resulted in loss of revenue to districts not associated with that area.

(K. Gothier) We need a discussion of the revenue stream.

(K. O’Neil) Redevelopment areas result in a loss of revenue to special districts. There should be a discussion of Redevelopment.

(K. Gothier) The Board of Supervisors is not inclined to give away money…there must be a "partnership".

(G. Ziemer) There should be a recommendation regarding Prop 172.

It is not feasible to charge fees for plan check/inspection. Is the County charging fees for inspections that are not done?



Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 15th, 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 4:15 P.M.