As 2012 comes to a close, we reflect on events of this past year and look forward to the anticipated challenges for 2013.
The number of incidents is up in 2012 from the previous year by 2.7% to a total of 1,380 calls. We average about 3.8 incidents per day. The majority of our emergency incidents (65%) are medical emergencies involving our ambulances and paramedics. About 5% of our calls involve fires. In 2011 we responded to 63 fires resulting in $520,869 in damages. Last year we responded to 66 fires and the loss was $344,160. The remaining calls are for hazardous incidents (gas leaks, wires down, etc.) public assists, mutual or automatic aid to our neighbors or cancelled while responding.
The past year we experienced no firefighter or civilian deaths or major injures as a result of fires. We responded to and mitigated several interesting and challenging incidents that stretched our available resources to the limit. Through our Automatic Aid and Mutual Aid Agreements, we have provided assistance to and received assistance from our neighboring emergency agencies, using our collective assets for major or multiple incidents.
We received support from both the Penn Valley Firefighters Association and the Penn Valley Fire Department Auxiliary. Through their fund-raising efforts the Auxiliary has donated more than $90,000 last year to assist the Fire District in its mission to provide emergency services. Speaking for the Fire District, we appreciate the dedication and hard work of all the volunteers involved.
The Penn Valley Firefighter’s Association volunteers are the dedicated people who put on the monthly breakfast held the 3rd Sunday of each month at the Fire Station on Spenceville Road. The fund-raising event generates between $10,000 and $12,000 each year and those funds are used to assist District personnel by providing scholarships and purchasing equipment and apparatus.
We are looking forward to 2013. We know we will face some significant challenges, especially financial, again this year. Assessed property values have decreased three years in a row (total of nearly 13%) and that means reduced income to our District. The State of California has some major money problems and, if history is a guide, their action to correct their problems will have a negative affect our funding. The State recently enacted what they call a Fire Prevention Fee (some call it a tax) and that is an additional burden on our citizens. The issues facing our nation are many and complex. Action taken by the federal government may affect us, especially our ambulance and paramedic service.
We have experienced a lot of changes over the past nine years. Nine years ago Penn Valley Fire District contracted Cal Fire for administration of our Fire District. In June of 2004 the District elected not to renew that contract and hired our own Fire Chief. The District reduced office staff from 2.5 personnel to 2 full time personnel. Our citizens passed a Fire Benefit Assessment District in 2005 and we started staffing, for the first time, the fire station on Spenceville Road. We started a Fire Intern Program that continues today and is very successful in augmenting our career staff.
In 2006 we started a Smoke Detector Program with donations from the Penn Valley Lions Club and the Penn Valley Rotary Club. That program continues today using donations only for funding. In 2007 we purchased a replacement ambulance using funds from the operation of the Penn Valley Fire Department Thrift Store. In 2008 our office staff was again reduced from 2 full time to 1 Office Manager. We also were able to reduce the hours worked by our emergency personnel from 72 hours per week to 56 hours per week to be more in line with other fire agencies and attempt to retain our existing dedicated staff.
In 2009 we completed an additional and remodel of the fire station on Spenceville Road and purchased an additional utility vehicle for the Duty Officer to use.
2010 was the year our voters passed an adjustment in our Special Tax – Rescue intended to help with the increasing cost of our emergency medical operation including providing advanced life support (paramedics) and the ambulance service. As a result of that measure passing we were able to continue to provide the existing level of service. We also purchased a replacement fire engine and put that in service. We replaced the roof on both the apparatus bay and the meeting/training room at the fire station on Spenceville Road.
Those are just a few of the highlights over the past several years. We continue to look for innovative ways to carry out our mission.
We plan on being proactive in facing the issues that may or will affect our ability to provide emergency services. Our pledge to you is that we will continue to use the resources available as effectively and efficiently as possible to provide the best emergency services.
We cherish the support we receive from the Penn Valley community. We appreciate your input and we are always looking for ways to improve what we do. If you have suggestions, comments, concerns or questions, please contact me at 432-2630 or e-mail me at email@example.com.