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COUNTYWIDE : 4 Cities Join Move to Form Fire District

Four cities whose firefighting and paramedic services are provided by the County Fire Department agreed this week to move forward with plans to form their own Fire Protection District. The cities join four others that approved the plan earlier this month.

On Tuesday, the city councils of Irvine, La Palma, Yorba Linda and Placentia agreed to begin negotiations with the county to take over fire services in unincorporated territory and 16 cities that do not have their own fire departments.

Earlier this month, the cities of Cypress, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel and Stanton also approved creating the district. City councils in Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano, Seal Beach, Tustin and Villa Park are scheduled to consider the plan later this month or early next month.

The district would be designed to give the 16 cities more say in fire services, Irvine City Manager Paul O. Brady Jr. said. Residents in those 16 cities make up 83% of the people served by the County Fire Department, but they currently have no say in how those services are provided, he said.

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If all 16 cities and the Board of Supervisors agree to form the fire district, it would require a hearing before the Local Agency Formation Commission to set the district’s boundaries. It may also require voter approval, said Larry Larsen, Brady’s executive assistant.

The state law authorizing the creation of fire protection districts requires an election, but the cities might ask the Legislature to make an exception, Larsen said. The cities may also seek special legislation to allow representatives from all of the cities and the county to sit on the fire district’s board, he said. Fire districts now are allowed a board of only 11 members.

The cities will also have to negotiate with the county to transfer ownership of fire stations, trucks and other equipment and assets to the proposed district, Larsen said.

If everything goes smoothly, Larsen said, the fire district could be established by January, 1993.

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