San Diego

Julian Fire District Takes First Step Toward Dissolution

The Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District voted 3-1 to file an application to dissolve Tuesday, marking its first official step in the dissolution process.

The board of director's vote comes a little over two months after a 4-1 vote to remain independent was returned in January.

Divided on the issue are the district's board members who are wary of its lack of funding support from the county, and its volunteer firefighters and the community they serve who think they will be overlooked and abandoned by the county fire authority.

The county had been giving the district $72,000 every year but decided to cut the funding after the district's January decision to remain independent. It also pulled a paramedic and fire engine assigned to Julian and reassigned firefighters from Julian and Cuyamaca stations.

Volunteer firefighters past and present say that independence is the right choice, though.

"It's very much the part of the fabric of the community, the volunteers are," retired volunteer firefighter Bill Everett said in January. He had been with the district for 15 years.

"The responsibility of Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District is structure fires, vehicle accidents and medical calls," Everett added. "We're not the primary responding agency when it comes to wildland fires. That's Cal Fire."

Everett explained that when the Cedar Fire sparked in 2003, crews were sent to areas more populated than Julian.

"It's understandable if you have two communities, one has 10,000 people, the other has 2,000 people and your resources are limited. You're going to go to the community that's larger," Everett said.

The district's application will pass through San Diego's Local Agency Formations Commission (LAFCO) and there will be a public hearing on whether to go through with the dissolution.

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