San Luis Obispo County

Five Cities Fire to Send out Ballot Measure to Raise Funds to Keep up Staff & Equipment

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif - A grant that's helped to keep the five cities safer is about to expire. The Five Cities Fire Authority is looking for the community to chip in for a ballot measure to keep up staffing levels and equipment.

"Honestly it's pretty nerve racking, it's scary," said Dylan Cox, a firefighter. Cox was hired as a full-time firefighter two years ago on a S.A.F.E.R grant. "It's something that I am passionate about and I feel like I was made to be," said Cox.

Cox's job along with the jobs of five other firefighters, are now on the line. The S.A.F.E.R grant that hired them is set to expire in September. It would reduce the number of firefighters on duty each day from 10 to eight. "It means there would be longer times for us to perform the functions, be it medical aids or structure fires or any other emergencies that require a larger number of people," said Chief Mike Hubert.

Equipment at the station is also in need of a face-lift, like its 1980s power fan. "If this doesn't work, we are not going to be able to push that smoke and fire out to be able to make access to put the fire out," said Eric Lokkart, a fire engineer.

The department is also looking to consolidate its dispatch system which is currently being run in two different cities.

In order to keep staff and keep equipment maintained there will be an annual fee that needs to be approved by residents. "Approximately for a single family residence it will be $66, it will be differing amounts for commercial property, apartment owners, and vacant land," said Chief Hubert.

If it doesn't pass the department will have to search out other ways to keep up to snuff. "Having served my community for a number of years as both a reserve and ocean lifeguard, it's very evident this is the career path I've been called for," said Cox.

The ballots for the measure will be going out next Friday. The deadline to vote is April 4.

The Five Cities Fire Authority is hoping to raise up to $1 million dollars in funding a year. It's holding public meetings each night this week through Thursday.

Public Meetings:

Oceano – Tuesday, Feb, 4, 6 p.m., Oceano Community Services District Board Room, (next to Fire Station 61) 1655 Front St.

Grover Beach - Wednesday, Feb, 5, 7p.m., – Grover Beach Community Center 12th & Trouville.

Halcyon – Thursday, Feb 6th, 6pm – Temple of the People Community Center

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