Study Shows Agencies Need Coordination : Plan Would Improve Rural Fire Safety

Times Staff Writer

San Diego County Supervisor George Bailey on Monday made a series of recommendations to increase coordination and efficiency of the more than 50 county fire services and emergency agencies.

Bailey's proposals to improve fire protection are based on a 1985 study by his office. He said he is not suggesting that the county assume full responsibility for fire services, which it did before closing the county Office of Fire Service in 1983, but rather that the county work to establish and clarify fire protection standards and coordinate funding for the 54 volunteer fire departments, fire and water districts and government service agencies.

"We're recognizing the need for standards, we're recognizing the need to coordinate, we're recognizing the need for a (uniform fire) code in buildings," Bailey said. "But it's not (an effort) to get our nose into every little district and tell them how to run their show."

Some goals outlined by Bailey at a press conference at the County Administration Center include proposals to reduce liability insurance costs to local fire and safety agencies by forming a countywide pool offering blanket coverage at bulk rates and to adopt a uniform fire code. He also discussed proposals to offer equitable protection to all homeowners by establishing minimum service levels and to reimburse safety agencies to offset some of their expenses for responding to emergency medical calls.

Bailey has also asked the chief administrative officer to review the county's watershed management policy, which allows burning to remove hazardous underbrush to prevent canyon and brush fires.

Action by the Board of Supervisors on the 300-page report's findings is expected to start next Tuesday with a public hearing on a countywide uniform fire code for all unincorporated areas, said Dana Quittner, Bailey's long-range planning administrator and the researcher for the study.

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