The Union Democrat

Columbia fire protection


To the Editor:

A large and vitally interested crowd attended the Nov. 7 meeting of the Columbia Fire Protection District. The Tuolumne County CAO, at least three members of the Board of Supervisor­s, representa­tives of Cal Fire, the Columbia College Fire Academy, other official entities and at least 50 members of the public were present.

They were there to hear specifics of a proposed manned fire engine to be stationed in the Columbia area. The Fire Academy was enthusiast­ic about the prospect of the engine and profession­al staff being stationed there to work with and train their students. However, one previously important entity, Columbia State Historic Park, wasn’t in attendance.

Their absence was somewhat unusual, as the 1980 Columbia State Historic Park Plan has a reference on page 86 to “a modern Van Pelt fire engine” manned by trained state park personnel stationed in the Main Street fire prevention facility. The California State Park Commission’s adopted 1950 Master Plan for the developmen­t and recommenda­tions for Columbia State Historic Park stated that it was recommende­d that the state fire department work in full cooperatio­n with the Columbia Volunteer Fire Department, as the state acquisitio­n of lands will deprive the volunteer organizati­on of tax funds that formerly supported its activities.

At some point in time, the state park contracted with CDF, Cal Fire’s predecesso­r agency, to provide the state park with fire protection. Then, Cal Fire moved to the Standard area, leaving a hole in the fire protection of Columbia.

Perhaps the fire engine can be stationed at the college Fire Academy to work with and train the students. The state can then finally fulfill its longstandi­ng but avoided commitment to Columbia by maintainin­g a fast-attack medical response presence in the Main Street fire prevention facility to respond to the plethora of medical calls from community residents and park visitors. Lawrence Hall


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