With last month’s study approval, Santa Clara County staff and supervisors will be exploring ways to provide more consistent fire and EMS coverage for the 702 persons that live in those remote reaches of the Diablo Range, as well as for those tourists who pass along the roads up there. Besides Santa Clara County the area served by Cal-Fire’s Sweetwater Station includes, Stanislaus, Alameda, and San Joaquin Counties. The County of Santa Clara, will be exploring ways to cost share with the other counties to provide the desired year round service coverage.
A handful of San Antone Valley residents took the drive into San Jose to voice their concern during the meeting to help raise awareness of the issue that they’ve been addressing up there for the past 17 years.
“We’re pushing to get the study done before the fire season ends so that this can get enacted,” rural Santa Clara County resident John Chamorro said by phone Monday. “We’ve got new administration in Cal-Fire willing to provide money. This time we got it all the way to budget hearings.”
Currently the area surrounding the newly built Sweetwater Cal-Fire station is un-served by any EMS or fire protection district, but sits in a ‘must cover’ area of the state when fire season rolls around. San Antone Valley residents want station coverage during the winter and spring months when fire danger is low, but the potential for accidents with bicyclists, vehicles, and motorcycles is still high.
Patterson, and the West Stanislaus Fire Protection District, is the closest to provide service if needed, and according to Steven Hall, Fire Chief for the City of Patterson and West Stanislaus Fire Agencies, is called to respond to between four and six calls in Santa Clara County per year.
“Most of those calls are vehicle accidents and/or medical assist calls,” Hall said by email this week.
According to Chamorro, Cal-Fire provided a ‘fantastic’ proposal to Santa Clara County of a little over $300,000 to provide the extra staffing to keep the Sweetwater Fire Station open year round.
While some are optimistic about the yearround staffing, others aren’t quite so sure that it’s going to happen, including the former Fire Chief of the volunteer fire fighters in the San Antone Valley region, Adrienne Swart.
Increased requirements from the California division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) forced Swart and her volunteers to cease providing service due to their inability to keep up with stricter guidelines and advanced training.
“They have a lot of other priorities besides a small fire station like us,” Swart said regarding the Santa Clara County administration. “For the most part we take care of ourselves.”
Crows Landing station to be rebuilt
Back in the San Joaquin Valley, The West Stanislaus Fire Protection District has plans in the works to rebuild its southern most fire station situated in the community of Crows Landing.
The existing structure was built in 1956 and there haven’t been any additions or modifications to the structure since then.
“Back then, fire engines were smaller (not as tall) than they are today. In fact, one of the reasons for rebuilding the station is we cannot fit any of our newer fire engines inside the apparatus bays,” said Fire Chief Hall by email.
“Additionally, this is becoming a maintenance issue for Division Chief Gregory in trying to find parts for a 1980 engine,” added Hall.
West Stanislaus Fire has been working on the plan with architects and builders for the past six months and is still in the planning stages for the rebuilt station.
Elias Funez can be reached at 892-6187 ext: 31, or elias @pattersonirrigator.com