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Fire equipment needed
Orland's volunteer fire department needs new equipment to keep its firefighters and the public safe.
Fire Chief Jeff Gomes updated Orland City Council members on Monday night on the department's needs, which have only been partially funded through grants and limited city resources.
The department, he said, is behind on replacement schedules.
Critical needs include updated personal protective equipment, a self-contained breathing apparatus replacement program, radio and pager replacement and maintenance of apparatus, the chief said.
He added, the city should spend $35,000 to $40,000 per year during the next decade to bring its equipment inventory up to today's standards.
This amount is above and beyond the current fire department budget, Gomes said, which has been between $67,000 to $78,000 in recent years.
The department has 48 volunteer firefighters and no paid fire personnel.
Truck reserve funding also will require an additional $10,000 to $20,000 per year.
Orland's ladder truck Engine 26 is a 1979 International that is starting to show its age after 33 years and has cracks in its boom.
A new replacement truck will run $600,000 and a used one $200,000, Gomes said, which is more than current reserves.
Otherwise, the department will have to rely on a mutual aid agreement with the Willows and Corning Fire departments, and wait 20 minutes for them to get to Orland.
Its newest fire engine is a 2006 Freightliner, but there also is a 1993 Freightliner and a 2003 Ford crew cab rescue truck.
Gomes, who was elected by firefighters to lead the department for a third year, said replacement costs for all fire gear are going up.
Personal protective gear such as coats, pants, helmets, boots and gloves run about $2,063 to outfit one firefighter, and have a cycle of 10 years, he said. 32 sets of this gear are more than 10 years old.
Self-contained breathing apparatus are running $7,925 to replace these days, and the Orland Fire Department is planning to replace two units a year, the chief said.
Wildland fire protective gear costs $480 with boots running an additional $225, Gomes said. Wildland fire shelters cost another $300 each and are required for fighting vegetation and woodland fires.
"This was a real eye opener," Mayor Charles Gee said. "We have let (added funding) slide the last few years. Let's hope the budget is ready in January."
Councilman Bruce Roundy added it might be time for the council to consider seeking a use tax for police and fire protection in the future.
No action was taken Monday as this was an informational presentation.
In 2011, Gomes said the department responded to 571 calls including 303 medical emergencies, 66 structure fires, 45 vehicle accidents and 36 vegetation fires along with 21 vehicle extrications of passengers, 26 vehicle fires and 12 hazardous materials calls.
But in 2012, the department has responded to 634 calls, Gomes said, and the year is not over.
"We do not respond to every medical emergency call," he said. "If we did, we would burn out our volunteers."
Two ambulance services are available to handle emergency calls in Glenn County, which is why the fire department is able to skip some calls.
Additional goals are to upgrade rescue unit 29 to a larger chassis and put in a second fire station on the east side of town as that would improve Orland's insurance rating and decrease response time, Gomes said.
He said the city presently has a "4" rating with insurance carriers while the surrounding area has an "8".
If another fire station were built, area residents' insurance rates would decrease, he said, saving money for most people.
Gomes also asked if the department could receive some grant writing assistance since its members have sought grants to fund several projects.
Examples included a 2011 grant for $7,015 from the Barceloux/Tibbesart Foundation for radio replacement and a 2012 Volunteer Fire grant from CalFire for $4,998 for new portable radios for the city department.
The state grant also paid for $4,743 to buy 13 new sets of wildland gear for the Orland Rural Volunteer Fire Department that shares quarters at the City Fire House on Fifth Street.
Plans are to apply for a $170,582 Assistance to Firefighters grant in 2013 to buy 39 sets of turnouts and 40 sets of wildland gear along with 50 sets of web gear, he said. The Orland City and Rural Fire departments would pay five percent or $8,978 share if it is awarded.
In addition to the grants, the department hosts an annual spaghetti feed and a Fireman's Ball to raise money for equipment like a thermal imaging camera used to find fire sources in structure fires.