JULIAN, Calif. (KGTV) - The Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District held a heated, emotional meeting on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing battle surrounding the future of the local volunteer fire department. It’s a story Team 10’s been following since last October.
The meeting at the Julian Fire Station was packed with standing room only. Several members of the Julian community came out to voice their opinions on the recently raised idea to rethink whether to allow the volunteer fire department to consolidate with the San Diego County Fire Authority. On January 1st, the tiny Julian-Cuyamaca Volunteer Fire Department lost its county-loaned paramedic-fire engine and thousands of dollars in additional county funding. Last year, the local fire board voted to cut ties with the county and become entirely independent. Subsequently, the volunteer fire department lost the engine and funding. Proponents argued that the town could supplement by raising its taxes, but they did not get enough valid signatures to continue with a ballot measure.
“We’re going to continue fighting this issue,” said Rami Abdel, a proponent of an independent volunteer fire department. “We have a lot of statistics [showing] that people in the community want to keep the independent district here,” he added. Many of those who are in favor of maintaining independence have told 10News that they don’t trust that the county will always come to their aid, or come fast enough.
“There’s no way this community can support going alone,” said Dr. Carl England, an opponent of an independent volunteer fire department. He and others in favor of consolidating with the county have expressed concerns over the impact of losing county funding. Many believe it’ll increase wait times for aid and subsequently put lives at risk.
The fire board made the decision to hold a night meeting within the next couple of weeks to afford more local residents the ability to come express their views, before the board decides whether to re-enter talks with the county about aid.