UPDATE ON FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT REORGANIZATION
September 14, 2023
Dear Rough and Ready Resident,
It is our pleasure to let you know that the Nevada County Board of Supervisors have agreed to our request for up to $1 Million in temporary gap funding to operate Rough and Ready Fire Station #59 fulltime.
County funds will provide necessary "matching" dollars to Rough and Ready Fire Protection District's current funding allocation to ensure Station #59 remains open. The $1 million breaks down to approximately $400,000 in Fiscal Year 2023-24 and $600,000 in Fiscal Year 2024-2025.
The County funds are a show of support for the ongoing effort to consolidate Rough & Ready Fire Protection District, Penn Valley Fire Protection District and Nevada County Consolidated Fire Protection District into one combined district. Funding is tied to our three districts meeting agreed-upon milestones leading to consolidation within one to two years.
As many of you know, the Rough and Ready Fire Protection District has experienced a significant decline in revenues required to maintain minimum staffing of two firefighters on duty each day. As a result, the Rough and Ready Fire Board of Directors were faced with the hard decision to lay off all remaining employees and file for dissolution by June 30th of this year.
Now, thanks to the County's financial support, we have the ongoing resources to maintain critical staffing levels to protect the community. Penn Valley Fire Protection District and Nevada County Consolidated Fire District have partnered to ensure Station #59 is staffed with two firefighters twenty-four hours a day for response. Furthermore, Rough and Ready's firefighters are now members of the Penn Valley Fire Department.
Over the next year or so, the three districts will work closely to consolidate, which will eliminate costly redundancies while enhancing overall efficiencies in our fire protection and other critical public safety services. The reorganization process is subject to approval by the Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo). We expect to have the reorganization approved by July 1, 2024, and be in full operation as a combined district by December 31, 2024.
Until reorganization is complete, the Rough and Ready Fire Board will remain in place to serve the community.
Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns and attend a Board Meeting (second Tuesday of the month at 6:30pm at Station#59).
Chief Don Wagner
Penn Valley Fire Protection District
Chief Jason Robitaille
Nevada County Consolidated Fire District
An Important Update from Chief Don Wagner
In the days since the June 22nd LAFCo meeting and public announcement of the reorganization of three fire districts a lot has happened, and the work continues. The highest priority item was accomplished on July 1st at 8:00 am when Rough & Ready Fire Station 59 went in service on the radio. The station is now staffed with two firefighters every day with the firefighters coming from Nevada County Consolidated and Penn Valley Fire. Penn Valley hired the three Rough & Ready Firefighters that were laid off, so you will see some familiar faces if you stop by the fire house. We are now doing some facility maintenance, replacing beds, new lockers for the staff in the dorm rooms, getting computers and high speed internet installed for report writing and office spaces set up.
During the reorganization, the Rough & Ready Fire Board of Directors will remain in place and approve expenditures. On the administration side Penn Valley is taking the lead and will be handling all the administrative functions, financial operations, bill paying with the remaining R&R funds and the gap funding provided by the County. Fire prevention activities, fire investigations, plan review, building inspections, mitigation fee collection will be handled by Penn Valley fire at their administrative office at 10513 Spenceville Road in Penn Valley. Penn Valley Fire Chief Don Wagner will remain as the interim Fire Chief for Rough & Ready Fire and Penn Valley Fire Captain Jon Pitts is assigned as the station Captain.
There is a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) that has been approved by the Penn Valley and Rough & Ready Fire Boards and will go to the Nevada County Consolidated Fire Board on June 20th for approval. It will go before the Nevada County Board of Supervisors on August 8th for final approval. This MOU will be presented with a joint letter requesting the County provide gap funding to keep Fire Station 59 open for up to two years while the three districts are reorganized into a single fire district. This reorganization is anticipated being completed by July 1st 2024, just one year from now. For those astute individuals, yes we began staffing the fire station without the written agreements being signed and approved. It was that important to us that we all wanted the station staffed and the community could sleep knowing the fire house was not empty and idle.
We plan to have an open house at the station a little later this year to celebrate the achievement. Until then, if you are in the area stop by and say hello and meet your local firefighters.
Chief Don Wagner
Rough and Ready Fire Dept
July 13, 2023
June 22, 2023
Chief Don Wagner, email@example.com
Chief Jason Robitaille, firstname.lastname@example.org
Taylor Wolfe, County PIO email@example.com, 530-277-0564
Three Fire Districts Explore Reorganization as One New District
Penn Valley Fire Protection District and Nevada County Consolidated Fire District intend to jointly operate the Rough & Ready Fire Station #59 starting July 1st
Nevada City, CA – Three local fire districts announced their intention to explore reorganization as one new district at today’s meeting of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo). Uniting the three independent fire districts -- Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, Penn Valley Fire Protection District, and Rough & Ready Fire Protection District – would strengthen and stabilize fire services for over 25,000 households and could be in place within a year.
“Our professional firefighters support the idea of reorganization because they know that streamlining administration with one chief means more boots on the ground,” said Penn Valley Fire District Captain Clayton Thomas, president of the Nevada County Professional Firefighters, Local 3800.
Today’s announcement follows the Rough & Ready Fire Protection District’s June 13th decision to suspend its application to LAFCo to dissolve. Rough & Ready took this action to allow time for the reorganization to proceed with the reassurance that the Rough & Ready Station #59 will remain in operation. Starting July 1st, Station #59 will be jointly staffed full-time by Penn Valley and Nevada County Consolidated with two firefighters daily.
Penn Valley Fire Protection District Chief Don Wagner and Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Chief Jason Robitaille, whose districts surround the Rough & Ready District, have partnered to ensure the Rough & Ready Station #59 remains open to serve area residents.However, the cost to operate a 24/7 fire station exceeds million annually, and with Rough & Ready’s revenues under 00,000, the chiefs requested County assistance in closing the gap.
“In the short term, we need to keep the Rough & Ready Station open. This is an all-hands on deck situation, and I applaud the County’s partnership to help keep the station open. That will give us breathing room to reorganize so we don’t face situations like this again,” said PennValley Fire Chief Don Wagner.
Nevada County Board of Supervisors Chair Ed Scofield appointed Supervisor Sue Hoek and Supervisor Lisa Swarthout to co-chair a Fire Services Ad hoc Committee. The Committee supports the vision of the three fire districts consolidating as one district and ensuring a continuation of emergency response services for Rough & Ready’s residents in the meantime.
The Committee is working with the three fire districts to develop a joint agreement to support the reorganization, which if approved by LAFCo, would also keep Station #59 open during the year-long process. The draft agreement calls for the County to support the reorganization by pledging up to 00,000 per year for the next two years to operate Station #59, with County funds matching Rough & Ready’s existing revenues. The proposed reorganization process will include a finance and operations plan, which is expected to demonstrate the financial sustainability of the newly reorganized district. The final agreement will be considered by the ire district boards in July and by the Board of Supervisors in August.
“The County recognizes that our independent fire districts are essential community partners in ensuring public safety – from fighting residential and wildland fires to responding to critical medical calls. I commend Chief Wagner and Chief Robitaille for their selfless dedication to explore a lasting solution that has the County’s full attention. They truly live by ‘service before self,’” said Supervisor Sue Hoek, whose district encompasses Rough & Ready and Penn Valley.
“This financial crisis isn’t isolated to Rough & Ready. Smaller fire districts are under similar pressures everywhere. Reorganizing is a long-term strategy to increase fiscal health and operational stability,” said Chief Robitaille.