CAL FIRE proposes to close 20 fire stations

Governor Schwarzenegger

Governor SchwarzeneggerThe California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which now prefers being called CAL FIRE, may have to close 20 fire stations due to a $50 million budget cut for the agency being ordered by the Governator. To help solve the state’s budget woes, Governor Schwarzenegger is also pushing a 1.25% surcharge on all residential and commercial insurance premiums.

More information from the Auburn Journal:

Proposed state budget cuts could close 20 Cal Fire stations statewide including Auburn’s Bowman station.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked Cal Fire to cut more than $52 million from its budget, which amounts to about 10 percent of its general fund.

“To do that we are going to have to close a number of our facilities and reduce a number of our positions,” said Daniel Berlant, department information officer for Cal Fire.

He said the positions cut would not be in fire protection but in resource management and at the State Fire Marshal’s office.

He said Auburn’s Cal Fire station is on a list of stations targets for proposed closure.

“There are other stations (in the Auburn area) that can respond in a timely manner if there were to be a wildfire,” Berlant said.

He said if the Auburn station were to close employees would be redistributed to other locations.

“No current employees would lose their jobs,” Berlant said.

The governor has also proposed a wildland firefighting initiative within the budget that would recommend a surcharge to property owners statewide, which would pay for all facilities to remain open, Berlant said.

A 1.25 percent surcharge on residential and commercial insurance, like homeowners insurance, could bring in as much as $120 million to the state fire agency.

“It would increase our funding and we could increase our staffing to respond to wildland fires before they become infernos like the San Diego fires of last October,” Berlant said.

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