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City Council hears SPFD report, Chief urges Station 2 be staffed

February 05, 2003
Santa Paula City Council
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesThe City Council was updated on the implementation of the three new firefighters, which allowed “us to get our foot in the door for fulltime, round-the-clock service,” according to a fire department official, who noted that it is time for Station 2 to be staffed.Fire Chief Paul Skeels presented the report at the Jan. 21st meeting, noting that although the addition of the firefighters was “not adequate to take care of all emergencies or major emergencies,” nevertheless it improves city public safety services.From 1903 to 1995 primarily a force of paid-call volunteers, supplemented by a city fire marshal and fire inspector, served the city and in 1989 the city hired its first fulltime chief, Skeels. Three fulltime firefighter positions were created in 1995 to “meet the demand of an ever-increasing number of calls, particularly the requests for emergency medical service, and to provide a core group of firefighters to staff an engine on a 24-hour basis,” according to the report.Three new firefighters hired in July “brought us in line with the standard in most other jurisdictions.”With council support, “We want to keep going and move ahead in the future with my professional goal to continue to operate as efficiently as we can with full and part-time firefighters. . .but it’s time to seriously consider staffing Fire State 2,” said Chief Skeels.
The Main Street fire station opened in 1988, and “from that time to now has been unstaffed, housing two engines we use for training. We need an engine company to respond to the west end of town and a two-engine response to emergencies. That’s my vision for our little department; our thirty-thousand people need that type of response.”Chief Skeels added that overlaps of emergency calls cause a certain amount of delay when paid-call firefighter response is required.Councilwoman Mary Ann Krause asked if fire station proximity impacts insurance rates. “It probably does not make much of a difference, it’s not about the location of the station,” as much as hillside proximity and weed abatement practices, said Chief Skeels.Chief Skeels written report noted that “staff is presently working on a phased-in concept to staff Station 2,” and expected to be presented during 2003-2004 budget discussions.