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June 3, 2015     Portola Reporter
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June 3, 2015
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, June 3, 2015 7B Firedepartment fundraising season is underwct00- Been to a pancake breakfast at a fire department lately? Almost all of our Plumas County fu'e departments conduct fundraising events throughout the year, most commonly scheduled from spring to late fall. These efforts supplement whatever regular revenues support the fire departments, the majority of which typically come from taxes. Operating a fire department is expensive even when the firefighters are volunteers. Consider the costs of a firehouse, insurance, fire trucks, fuel, firefighter protective clothing and equipment, fire hose, training materials and fees and emergency medical equipment and supplies. Throw in other needs like radio communications equipment, rescue gear, nozzles, ladders, maintenance, workers' compensation, physical exams, saws, T-shirts, generators, scene lighting and batteries. Breathing apparatus? Those can run well over $5,000 each with a spare bottle. The cost of outfitting one firefighter in protective clothing is typically $2,500 or more, including structural firefighting gear, wildland gear and emergency medical gear such as a jumpsuit. Consider the fact that volunteer fire departments have regular turnover in members and realize that much of the gear, such as coats, shirts, pants and boots, is individually sized. While "hand-me-downs" are an option, hoping that new members will be the same size as former ones is not realistic. Whatever regular revenue exists is usually not enough to cover everything that is needed, motivating more fundraising efforts. These range from Indian taco nights in Sierra Valley to pancake breakfasts and shirt sales in many areas including,: for example, La Porte, and'twO : INSIDE THE FIREHOUSE TOM FORSTER Fire Chief Plumas Eureka Fire Department thrift shop operations by auxiliaries, in the Peninsula and Eastern Plumas Rural fire districts. Some, like Bucks Lake, solicit online donations and encourage corporate employees with company matching donations to sign up, while Quincy has a large annual prize giveaway along with two pancake breakfast events, including the upcoming Father's Day Fly-In at Gansner Field. Most receive some small cash donations from grateful residents or businesses not tied to any event, and many have accepted in-kind donations of construction help or other contributions. How much money is raised? It varies, of course, but usually it makes up the equivalent of from 3 to 10 percent of annual budgets. Most departments also apply occasionally for grant funds, with mixed success. In general over the last eight years the total amounts of grant funds and programs available has been declining, driven by a weak economy and tight federal and state budgets. Donations of used fire equipment and even used apparatus can be very helpful, although these donations are usually hard to come by in really good shape. "We need to keep in mind that the time our firefighters spend doing fundraising usually detracts from fire prevention, training and other preparedness efforts," said Ed Ward, president of the Plumas County Fire Chiefs Association, and Graeagle : fire chief. "W ali need to do Young supporters of the Plumas Eureka Fire Department gather with Sparky and Smokey Bear at the Memorial Day weekend pancake breakfast. Photo by Bill Robinson it, but it can be a lot of work just to put on a breakfast." Graeagle's annual Fourth of July pancake breakfast is very successful, and is combined with clothing sales with the fire department logos. This year's event will be held Sunday, July 5, from 8 to 11 a.m. Nationally, according to recent studies by the National Volunteer Fire Council, the added time for fundraising efforts by fire fighters on top of time needed for training, maintenance and call response can be a major factor in why people no longer wish to volunteer. In the author's case, I am very appreciative of our fire department having the strong support of the Piumas Eureka Communi!Y  ervices D istxiqt: Auxiliary -- community members who are not firefighters who volunteer twice a year to lead the operations of two fundraising breakfast events. This is one of the suggestions to communities on a national level to help sustain their fire departments. The term used now on a national level is fire corps, or nonsuppression volunteers who support their fire departments in other ways, such as fundraising. Visit firecorps.org for more information on how communities are getting involved to help their fire departments, even in some big cities. Their tag line is "Supporting Fire and EMS Services through Community Involvement." Please contacl Plumas Eureka Auxiliary member Bill Grijalva flips pancakes while members Larry and Renee Walker cook the sausages at the recent Plumas Eureka Fire Department breakfast. Photo by Maureen Forster your local fire department to /earn about fundraising events and other ways you might be able to help -- thanks for anything you can do. HAZARDOUS. from page 6B contaminate zone affected. The need for a local hazmat team cannot be overemphasized. The following crude-by-rail disasters summarized in this grand jury report illustrate some of the potential circumstances other public safety agencies have had to deal with. Despite all the mandated safeguards dealing with hazardous material hauling, i.e., safe speeds, upgraded rail cars, railcar and track inspections, specialized training, etc., accidents can happen anytime and anywhere within transportation routes of hazardous materials. Plumas County and the surrounding 12 counties in northeastern California lie within Region 3 of the State Emergency Services System. At the time of this report, Plumas County has no hazmat team. Upon any need for hazmat response, Plumas County must contact nearby Butte or Shasta teams. In more serious incidents, Plumas County would have to enlist state or federal emergency service agencies. Lac-Megantic, Canada: In July 2013 a train carrying 72 tank cars full of crude oil exploded after the train braking system released, sending the unmanned train on a downhill run into the Canadian town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec. The runaway train crashed into a crowded downtown pu b , killing 47 people and destroying over 30 buildings. According to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation, the train had been idling and unmanned for over seven hours and the emergency braking system disengaged. The train then roiled down the tracks for several miles, picking up speed and eventually derailing into downtown Lac-Megantic. Of the four disaster crude-by-rail spills mentioned in this report, the results from the official investigation determined that sheer neglect (train left running and unattended and braking system released, causing a runaway unmanned train) was the primary factor in the disaster. Aliceville, Alabama: A 90-car train carrying Bakken crude derailed in November 2013 and exploded. Nearly 750,000 gallons of its 2 million gallon load spilled in wetlands in Alabama. Officials still assail cleanup operations today and report that containment booms and absorbent products were ineffective. Lynchburg, Virginia: In April 2014 a CSX train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fe, spilling thousands of gallons of oil into the James River. Oil fires from the ruptured tanker cars burned for two days. Reports indicate that the tanker cars were all the new CPC-1232 model. Casselton, North Dakota: In December 2013 a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train hauling grain derailed and fell across another set of tracks. Shortly after, a crude oil train heading in the opposite direction struck the derailed cars and derailed itself. Several tanker cars exploded. A slow response to the first incident set up the chain of events for the explosive second incident. Montgomery, West Virginia: In February 2015 a train Carrying crude oil in West Virginia derailed sending 27 tanker cars off the tracks. Twelve of those rail cars exploded, not at once, but randomly for up to 12 hours. The cause is still under investigation. In the event of a local hazardous material disaster, the Plumas County Office of Emergency Services is notified and it determines the scope and magnitude of the incident and then contacts the Plumas County Board of Supervisors. Depending on the incident assessment of the Plumas County OES, the BOS has the authority to officially declare an emergency, which allows the Plumas County OES to request help from relevant local, state and federal agencies. Through leadership and partnership with all f'st responders, each incident goes through a foundational process that includes prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. The fn'st three steps of the mitigation process rely on the safe containment of the hazardous material as quickly as possible with a special focus on protecting human life (isolate, deny entry, protect life safely, mitigate). The recovery phase, however, can last for years. The Dunsmuir toxic spill, for example, seriously impacted the area for several years after. At the time of this report, the crude-by-rail spills were all still in the recovery phase. Fortunately, the Plumas County corn derailment had a minimal effect on the environment. The first three phases of emergency services mitigation at the corn spill served as a great training exercise for all agencies and first responders involved. Recovery, in this case, was at a minimum in terms of environmental impact. In regard to Plumas County hazmat, the grand jury has learned that the county must rely on local volunteers to devote their time as first responders. Plumas County has had a difficult time finding enough volunteers to cover the entire county, and retaining volunteers after hazmat certification and specialized training has not worked out. All the local fire districts within Plumas County have been actively seeking volunteers. FINDINGS F1) The grand jury fends that communication between Plumas County public safety agencies and railroad officials is profoundly inadequate. F2) The grand jury finds that the lack of spill and containment equipment along raft routes in Plumas County poses a direct threat to public safety and the natural environment. F3) The grand jury finds that relying on hazmat response teams from surrounding counties compromises response times and threatens Plumas County public safety and natural resources. F4) The grand jury finds that the lack of training of first responders concerning hazardous materials that they may have to deal with could have profound consequences. F5) The grand jury fmds that population centers within Plumas County that are in close proximity to railroads have grossly inadequate protection resources. RECOMMENDATIONS R1) The grand jury recommends Plumas County Emergency Services and the Plumas County Environment Health Agency establish direct local contact with Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe and any hazardous material carrier that operates within the county. R2) The grand jury recommends that Plumas County negotiate with railroad officials to have spill containment booms and absorbent kits in key strategic storage facilities in Plumas County. R3) The grand jury recommends that the BOS find the means to provide hazmat training and certification to in-county first responders. R4) The grand jury recommends more hazardous material training between first responders and all those involved in mitigating hazardous material disasters. Union Pacific, for example, offers tank car safety training in Roseville at the California Office of Emergency Services Specialized Training Institute every year. The training involves practically all aspects of hazardous material incident mitigation. R5) The grand jury recommends that the BOS and Plumas County OES conduct a "what-if' evaluation for population centers within Plumas County that are within potential "blast zones" of crude-by-rail tanker CarS. "Maggie" is a Lhasa cross. She is 1 year old, spayed and current on shots. She needs "Sasha" is a 2 year old Siberian Husky. a fenced yard as she likes chasing Deer. She is not spayed, sweet and full of She weighs about 30 Ibs. energy. 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