SodaCanyonRoad | Napa County questions Cal Fire services

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Napa County questions Cal Fire services
Bill Hocker | Oct 26, 2022 on: Fire Issues

NVR 10/25/22: Napa County looking at how to run county fire services
Video of BOS 10/18/22 meeting

For 90 years Cal-Fire has provided fire protection services to Napa County in both the State Responsibility Areas (wildlands) of the county as well as the unincorporated areas of the county not in the SRA. The protection outside the SRA is separately contracted and that contract is up for renewal. The county has done a study to determine how much it would cost for the county to have its own fire department and not rely on Cal Fire. The study determined that there would be over $5 million/yr in extra personnel costs. The costs of additional fire stations and fire equipment was not calculated.

Not addressed in the study or the discussion with the BOS was why the county would be considering the change after 90 years. Is the county miffed that Cal-fire wants to limit future development in much of the county? The change seems to have been supported by the Napa Valley Vintners. Did Cal-fire let them county down in the Glass Fire?

Barry Eberling, in his article, highlights one quote from a report that was not among the documents presented to the BOS in their Oct 18 meeting. The quote was, to me at least, telling: "Recent catastrophic fires in Napa County and the popularity of our community bringing countless visitors to our majestic valley have influenced the need to ensure that our fire protection services are able to provide the highest level of service possible." Tourists, apparently, need more protection than residents. It is, of course, one more specific example of the transition from an agricultural to a tourism economy and, to my mind, from a rural to an urban county as ever more tourist attractions are built needing an ever increasing supply of patrons and workers. The fact that the NVV is supporting the change is also one more indication that it is now as much a lobbying organization for the tourism industry as the wine-making industry.