With the end of 2018 in sight, SVFD staff has been diligently working to prepare our 2019 budget for final review and adoption by the Board of Fire Commissioners. This effort, which has been ongoing since August, will once again fund the necessary personnel and Capital improvements to continue to provide the excellent level of service our communities deserve.
I am pleased to report that the 2019 Budget was adopted by the Board of Fire Commissioners earlier this week. The adopted budget totals $38,401,807 and is a 2.3 percent increase over the 2018 approved budget. The 2019 spending plan allows for the acquisition of property for a new fleet maintenance and repair facility, a fire station remodel and the continued capital replacement of fire apparatus and equipment in alignment with our capital improvement plan. Of course, the budget also contains the necessary funding to maintain the department operations including the hiring and onboarding of 12 new recruits to replace retiring firefighters. We appreciate the input many of you added to our process this year through your participation in our Strategic Plan which provided valuable feedback about the service levels and expectations of our community for our Department. Read more about our 2019 Budget.
Looking back on 2018, SVFD accomplished a number of important goals. Early in the year, we set out to update our five-year community-driven Strategic Plan which included amazing input from 70 community stakeholders. The Strategic Plan was completed by mid-year and provides the department with goals to take us through 2023. Ten initiatives were included in the plan and staff is currently beginning work on the first three. Read our 2018-2023 Strategic Plan.
The summer wildland fire season ended in October and I’m pleased to say that the residents of SVFD weathered the season with a minimum number of significant fires and damage. Credit to all those in our community for being extra careful and mindful of fire danger and the damage it can cause. The Western U.S. has experienced an unparalleled increase in wildland fires and destruction over the past few years. As I write this article, the State of California is experiencing its most damaging fire season ever as over 7,000 structures have burned and dozens of residents have lost their lives. It seems to be the new normal for the West, so your continued diligence will be needed in the years to come.
Also this year, SVFD implemented some operational changes that should serve the community well in the future. The most notable was the implementation of an “alternative response unit” (ARU) to serve the fastest growing segment of our call volume which is non-life threatening emergency medical calls. The ARU is a two-person unit operating 12 hours a day, five days a week during our busiest hours. Its implementation not only reduces wear and tear on our larger fire engines and ladder trucks, but also keeps those units available for more serious medical calls and fires.
That’s it for this month, as always we truly appreciate the support that you continue to provide us!
Take care, and be safe!
~Fire Chief Bryan Collins