W. Covina Hastens End of Joint Fire Authority
The San Gabriel Valley Fire Authority, a joint fire department serving Covina and West Covina, may be abolished as early as January as the result of action taken this week by the West Covina City Council.
The council voted Monday to expedite the dissolution of the 2-year-old agency with the Covina City Council, which previously voted to pull out. The authority was formed when the two cities merged their fire departments to cut overhead.
Under the authority’s original operating agreement, one city is required to give a year’s notice before pulling out, but the process can be sped up if both cities agree. On Tuesday, at a meeting of the fire authority’s governing board, representatives of both cities directed the authority’s staff to work with the cities to re-establish municipal fire departments.
Depending on the legal and logistical issues, the authority could be dissolved as early as Jan. 1, said Carl R. Johnson, former Covina fire chief and the authority’s operations manager.
“We don’t know all the legal steps, but we basically have to undo what we’ve done,” he said. “Everyone goes back to their original positions in their original departments.”
Covina critics claim that cost reductions have disproportionately been targeted at their city. A Covina citizens committee, formed at the behest of the council, sharply criticized the service provided to Covina by the authority.
Disputes over the level of service to be provided to Covina had created friction between the cities and motivated West Covina City Manager Herman R. Fast to recommend that his city pull out of the agreement.