We certainly need better fire protection in San Diego County. Devastating wild fires are more likely to increase in intensity and damage in our region as a result of climate change and development of rural areas.

When you allow developers to build housing tracts in the fire zone, but don't require them to invest in fire protection, you get the situation we find ourselves in today.

So Ron Roberts, a lifelong member of the downtown crowd who created this disastrous situation now wants to tax every property owner to make up for his mistakes.

We need to consolidate and better fund our fire prevention resources, and we need to encourage citizen training in fire fighting and first aid. We know that disaster response is now beyond the abilities of our local government, hobbled by decades of short-sighted decision making.

But this proposal is unlikely to do much more than provide an excuse for the County to divert the new money into other programs while padding Ron Roberts' political resume.

We do need more fire protection, but this measure hasn't been well thought out and it has little support in the community. I've not heard a word about this in Normal Heights, where the 1985 fire burned fast and fierce. Is it because we suspect the money will be mostly spent elsewhere?

I'd rather see forward positioning of equipment on canyon rims combined with resident training in putting out local fires before they become conflagrations. This doesn't require money so much as will.

Cooperation, training, and communication that allows quick action is the key to fighting fires. I learned that in Navy firefighting school. I'd like to see more of that in our communities. This proposition is all about fancy tools, when it's manpower, training, and basic equipment that counts most.

Tell Roberts to get it right next time, and vote NO on Proposition A.

Comments

JF Oct. 30, 2008 @ 8:05 a.m.

Fred, When I worked in Normal Heights in the early 90's, we had a hard time getting residents to clear some defensible space around their homes. That was only five years after the fires. No one cared. The fire service has had horrible success convincing people that fire strikes the same areas over and over. The term, "fire corridor" must make it's way into the lexicon.

I don't feel that Prop A is perfect by any means. However, the money raised will fund several engines here in the city of SD. Other cities may get one. Plus, it will fund spare engines that can be staffed at a moment's notice. Here in SD we typically have 3-7 spares on any given day. That's it. Prop A will also help fund aircraft needed in the entire region.

Most importantly, Prop A will begin the process of having a unified voice for fire protection in SD County. Things went well at the fire on Pendleton a few weeks ago. But what if there was a second fire? Who decides where resources go? Answer: No one.

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