SLO County may take over Cayucos Fire Department
October 16, 2015
The Cayucos fire commission is planning on dissolving the Cayucos Fire Department and turning over the agency’s responsibilities to San Luis Obispo County, according to the community’s firefighters union.
Fire commissioners directed the chief of the fire department to turn over responsibility for fire and emergency medical services to the county by Jan. 1, 2016, the Cayucos Firefighters Association stated Wednesday in a press release. The union is arguing the fire department does not have to be dissolved.
The Cayucos Fire Protection District is faced with lingering funding and staffing issues. The district has a contract with Cal Fire which places a captain and firefighter at the Cayucos Fire Station 11 during the non-fire season.
Non-fire season typically spans mid-October through mid-May, according to the San Luis Obispo County Fire Department website.
The contract has risen in cost to the point where it consumes nearly 50 percent of the Cayucos Fire Department’s budget, according to the Firefighters Association. The fire commission must approve a new contract with Cal Fire every year.
Caycucos firefighters are paid-call employees. They receive some compensation but are considered volunteer firefighters by state standards.
The Cayucos Fire Department has struggled to retain and recruit adequate staffing because of the paid-call system, the Firefighters Association says.
The union stated in the press release Cayucos voters could pass a tax that would enable the fire department to overcome the paid call-staffing issue and function as a full-time fire department.
Cayucos voters just passed a special fire tax in 2012 which is levied on property owners at a rate of $25 a unit. The typical home owner would pay $100 per year.
The Firefighters Association argues the county might need a similar tax hike or fee assessment in order to fund the fire department or contract with Cal Fire.
The Cayucos fire commission is scheduled to meet again on November 5, according to the Firefighters Association.