HUGHSON -- Consultant Anthony Fink quickly defused any tension between the city and the Hughson Fire Protection District on Monday night in a sparsely attended joint meeting of the City Council and fire board directors.
More than half of the audience of 25 people was made up of department volunteers, many in uniform. If the firefighters were spoiling for a fight, Fink offered reconciliation.
The consultant, who in a written report had called the department "underfinanced, understaffed, undertrained and ... not able to provide an adequate level of service to the city of Hughson at this time," began by quoting fire board trustee Doug Humph-reys, who had defended the department last week.
Humphreys was quoted in a Bee story that the city had been well-served since 1915 and, "People here call 911, and the fire department always shows up and mitigates whatever the problem is."
Fink said he agreed.
He said his report was not about finding fault with the efficiency, capability or dedication of the department. Fink said he was merely using federal statutes and regulations to measure how the department rated in those areas. He said several times that the volunteer Hughson department was in the same boat as other departments in the nation.
In answer to a fire department rejoinder that its personnel had been fully trained according to the National Incident Management System protocols, Fink said compliance was more than training, that each incident had to be named, a command center established and a form filed.
The board gave a collective shrug that all those criteria had not been met.
The fire board of trustees and the City Council agreed to continue to meet on an ad hoc basis with two members from each body. That panel would create a plan to set mutual priorities.
Staff writer Roger W. Hoskins may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2311.