August 24, 2014

Turlock council to look at pact on fire calls

The Turlock Fire Department might enter into a “boundary drop” agreement with three other agencies. It would require the closest station to respond to a call.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider a “boundary drop” agreement with fire agencies covering much of Stanislaus County.

The agreement involves the Turlock, Ceres and Modesto fire departments and the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, which serves much of the central and eastern county.

Under the plan, the closest crew would respond to a call, regardless of city or district boundaries. Fire officials say this could improve responses without the need for formal mergers.

“This directly improves the level of service to citizens and improves the safety and operational abilities of our firefighters,” Turlock Fire Chief Tim Lohman said in a memo to the council.

He added that each city and the district would maintain control over its personnel and assets, but would follow common standards in training, communications and other areas.

The partnership would go beyond the long-standing agreements among fire agencies to back each other up on major calls. But it would fall well short of a merger, such as the one that created Stanislaus Consolidated in the 1990s.

Fire agencies have entered into other agreements in recent years. Stanislaus Consolidated has a contract to manage the Oakdale Fire Department and the Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District. The Modesto Regional Fire Authority — involving Modesto, the county and the Salida Fire Protection District formed — ended July 1 after a three-year run.

Under the boundary drop agreement, an agency responding from outside could seek compensation only if the incident lasts more than 12 hours.

Also Tuesday, the council will consider an appeal of a permit granted for a Taco Bell restaurant in the northwest part of Turlock. Opponents cited concerns about traffic, noise and other impacts from the project, on North Golden State Boulevard and Roberts Road.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway, Turlock.

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