Mill Valley Fire Department Works to Support Fire Districts throughout California During the 2016 Fire Season
Fire season has been disastrous to many communities throughout California but the success of California’s State-wide Mutual Aid System has ensured that fighting some of the worst fires of the season has been aided by the contributions of Fire Departments throughout the state including the Mill Valley Fire Department. The Mill Fire Department has worked throughout the 2016 fire season to fight several state-wide fires as part of the California State-wide Mutual Aid System contributing fire engines, strike team leaders, paramedics, and management support.
Participation in the Mutual Aid System is contingent on the fact that services do not suffer at home and allow Mill Valley firefighters to participate throughout California fighting fires in other communities who need our help. Closer to home the Mill Valley Fire Department shares resources on a daily basis within Marin County by way of mutual and automatic aid agreements with other agencies. The resources shared in county are generally not reimbursable, however, larger incidents throughout the state are reimbursable by way of a state or federal agency (Cal OES, Forest Service).
The Fire Department generally participates in four basic areas.
Fire Engine - 3 or 4 firefighters staffed Type I (Structural) or Type 3 (Wildland).
Strike Team Leader - Battalion Chief leads a team of 5 fire engines.
Fire-line Paramedic or EMT - 1 member assigned to fire-line for care of injured firefighters.
Overhead - Battalion Chief is assigned to a fire as a Division Supervisor, Branch Director or as part of an Incident Management Team.
To date, the Mill Valley Fire Department has participated on several state-wide fires during the 2016 fire season to including:
Pony Fire - Siskiyou County - Fire Line Paramedic - 9 days
Soberanes Fire - Monterey County - Fire Line Paramedic - 14 days
Soberanes Fire - Monterey County - Engine 607 (4 members) 12 days
Clayton Fire - Lake County - Engine 607 (4 members) 4 days
Cedar Fire - Kern County - Battalion Chief (1 member) as Strike team leader - Engine 607 (4 members) - Still assigned.
Tully Fire - Humboldt County - Battalion Chief (1 member) assigned as Division Supervisor - Still assigned.
As of August 19th our firefighters have logged 2,544 hours, either fighting fires out of county or backfilling our fire stations. This translates to roughly $134,832 in total costs. Participation in the Mutual Aid Program assures that the Fire Department will be reimbursed 110% of our overtime costs ($148,315), which covers fire station backfill, out of county firefighter overtime and administrative services (processing, workers comp). The Fire Department also generates additional revenue at an hourly rate for fire engines and other vehicles.
Shared services and mutual aid helps to create a better Fire Department in Mill Valley. The experience and training received by participating at large wildland fires is essential to fire staff and our firefighters return with contemporary experience, confidence and skills to handle any issues at the home-front.
Additionally, our partnership with the Southern Marin Fire Protection District ensures enough officer coverage at home and allows our Fire Department to safely send up to 2 and sometimes 3 Battalion Chiefs out of county for assignment. Before we entered into shared service agreements with Southern Marin Fire Mill Valley was only able to send one Battalion Chief and on very rare instances 2 members out. Both Fire Chief Chris Tubbs of Southern Marin Fire and Chief Tom Welch of Mill Valley Fire ensure that at least 3 officers are available at all times to serve our respective communities.
The 2016 fire season is turning out to be a busy one, especially for Southern California. Often, the Southern CA fire seasons can extend well into November with devastating effects. Our situation in Mill Valley has been favorable due to good weather and increased fuel moistures. There have been a few fires throughout Marin County, however they have been small and contained quickly.