JULIAN, Calif. (KGTV) - The fate of Julian’s longstanding volunteer fire department will be determined in a Monday morning vote.
Numerous residents remain split on whether the volunteer department should be dissolved and have its jurisdiction handed over to county and state fire departments.
“We raised money for the buildings for 35 years,” resident Kirby Winn said. “It's a shame for it to disappear or for it to be taken away from us.”
The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will vote to see if the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District should be taken over by San Diego County Fire and Cal Fire.
Winn believes the local volunteer department knows the area better and has faster response times. He said that is why he is fighting for the local department to stay. Winn said he is not asking the County or Cal Fire to leave; he wants to continue collaborating with them.
“We still want to work with them, but they’re not allowing it,” Winn said.
In the last decade, LAFCO has successfully dissolved 19 of the 20 backcountry fire departments. Meanwhile, Julian residents have voted three times to stay independent. They are the last volunteer department in the area.
Others like 53-year Julian resident Bobbi Vanderstaay are hoping the town is placed in a larger firefighting umbrella. Six generations of her family have called Julian home, and while she appreciates the volunteers, she also thinks it’s time for a change.
“I’m Julian. I’m not going anywhere,” Vanderstaay said. “I think Cal Fire has the resources and the money, and without raising our taxes, I think they’re the best bet."
The taxes she is referring to is Proposition QQ, a citizen’s initiative on the November ballot. If passed, this would raise the residents’ fees to the supplement the volunteer department from $50 a year to $200 a year.
“Nothing is free anymore,” Vanderstaay said.
Winn said the extra $12.50-per-month is well worth knowing that the local department has your back.
“I don’t have a problem with that as long as we can do our thing,” Winn said.
LAFCO's board members will hear both sides of the argument and make an official vote at 9 a.m. in downtown San Diego.