As new residents of Baldwin Lake, we were happy to hear we had a fire station that was staffed 24/7 and less than 5 minutes from our new house. Our homeowner’s insurance company was also happy to hear this news, and we were happy to learn that our rates would be less because of the close proximity of the Baldwin Lake Fire Station.
Now we learn that County Fire wants to build another fire station and only have paid call firefighters. We are concerned that this will be a step backwards. What good is a fire station without firefighters? Paid call firefighters mean the following steps have to happen before a fire engine will actually arrive at our house: 1) A page goes out to several on call firefighters. 2) At least two people have to answer the call, and one of them must be certified to drive the fire truck. So if two show up but neither can drive the truck they have to wait. 3) The firefighters who respond to the page, need to get dressed, get in their personal car/truck and drive to the fire station. Depending on where they live in the Valley this could take them anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Remember they don’t have sirens or lights and must drive the speed limit. Let’s not even talk about traffic on holiday weekends or snow conditions. 4) Once at the station, they change clothes again, this time into their turnouts or gear. 5) Then assuming one of the people that responded has the proper credentials to drive the fire truck, they can now respond to my call for help. And depending on the location of the new fire station and the location of the person who needs help, that could be another 5 to 10 minutes. At a bare minimum, under all the best circumstances, this could be anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes before someone arrives. If our house was on fire, it will be fully engulfed by then. If one of us was having a heart attack, we’d be dead by now!!!!
Currently, the Baldwin Lake Fire Department is staffed 24/7 with anywhere between 3 to 6 fully-qualified/trained firefights. They can skip steps 1-3 above before responding to our call, meaning they can be at our particular house in 3 to 5 minutes. Three to five minutes not 15 to 30! Why would this be considered an improvement by the County? Why would they even consider this? Also, why would they build a new fire station, when we have a perfectly operationally station already? Is the County made of money? Why not just staff the station we already have? They were given this opportunity but refused, saying they would only provide paid call fire fighters.
Lest anyone suggest that a volunteer fire station is some kind of oddity, let’s look at some facts. In the U.S., 87 percent of areas that have less than 25,000 people living in the area have volunteer fire departments. These volunteer fire stations save the U.S. Government 38.7 BILLION dollars per year in salary costs. The state of California has 490 volunteer fire departments. Let’s talk about qualifications. To be a Baldwin Lake volunteer firefighter you must be a nationally certified EMT. You must also have graduated from an accredited fire academy. You must also be at least 18 years of age and have a Class C driver’s license. To start as a paid call firefighter the only requirements for the County of San Bernardino are: 1) you must be at least 18 years of age, and 2) must have a class C driver’s license. Don’t believe me? Look it up on their Web site. Once you are hired, the County will then begin training you and eventually you must attend and pass an accredited fire academy. The volunteer firefighters at the Baldwin Lake fire station are fully-qualified on day one. The reputation of the Baldwin Lake Fire Station is so well respected that there is a waiting list of over 300 firefighters waiting for the opportunity to volunteer here in Baldwin Lake.
And if all this wasn’t enough, the Baldwin Lake Fire Department recently signed a contract with CAL Fire to staff the Baldwin Lake Fire station with three full-time CAL Fire fire fighters during the fire season from March – November. So why, why, why, do we need a new fire station and paid call fire fighters in Baldwin Lake? If something smells fishy, it probably is. You can bet we’ll be attending the upcoming meeting and asking these very same questions.
Christie Walker and Robbie Bos
Baldwin Lake Residents
More County Fire News;
UPDATE: Fire Station Groundbreaking Feb. 7 : ROTWNews – The new San Bernardino County Fire Station No. 98 is scheduled to include an apparatus bay for housing three engines, a community/training room, two sleep rooms and two showers, a kitchen area, and about 1,200 square …