Contracts approved for County Fire Services

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Fire Station 60 won’t be manned any time soon; however, residents no longer will have to rely solely on American Medical Response (AMR) for medical emergencies if the neighboring cities of Lake Elsinore and Menifee agree to the two contracts for Fire Services that the Canyon Lake City Council approved Tuesday night.

The first contract between the City of Canyon Lake and the County of Riverside – a “Cooperative Agreement to Provide Fire Protection, Fire Prevention, Rescue and Medical Emergency Services for the City of Canyon Lake” – allows for Fire Services to be provided by Stations 94 and 97 in Lake Elsinore and Station 5 in Menifee (Quail Valley) for a period of one year.

As part of the agreement, the City would be paying for a total of five personnel divided between the cities of Lake Elsinore and Menifee, as well as administrative positions and support for the County of Riverside.

The second contract – “Cooperative Cost Sharing Agreement Between the City of Canyon Lake, the City of Lake Elsinore, the City of Menifee and the County of Riverside to Provide Fire Services in the City of Canyon Lake” – is a four-party agreement that outlines the way the costs and payments are split between the parties. The estimated cost to the City of Canyon Lake is $1,148,268 for 12 months of service.

Canyon Lake’s contract with Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire expired June 30, 2015 and County Fire withdrew its personnel from Station 60 after the City Council refused to renew the contract for budgetary reasons.

Since July 1, the City has been operating under a State of Local Emergency that saw fire engine response coming from as far away as Murrieta, Perris and Corona, while an ad hoc committee made up of Council members Dawn Haggerty and Vicki Warren worked with City Manager Ariel Hall, Interim Fire Chief Mike Wilson and outside fire professionals to begin putting together a municipal fire department.

Another action that took place Tuesday was to change the ad hoc committee to a standing committee, which allows more flexibility with the public and greater transparency. Now residents will know when the committee is meeting and will see a posted agenda. Members of the community will be able to attend meetings.

Dawn and Vicki announced Tuesday that they are close to having a first draft ready for review by the Finance Committee and the City Council. Dawn says that, while she is not happy about having to sign a contract with County for a full 12 months, (commencing at final approval of the contracts), it will give the City time to create a quality department.

Most people in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting were pleased to see the contracts approved and look forward to once again having fire and medical response from the neighboring stations.

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Sharon Rice