Vote to determine future of Julian Fire Department

JULIAN, Calif. – Board members of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District will vote Tuesday morning whether or not to disband the local volunteer fire department.

The Julian Fire Department is the last volunteer fire department in the county. Monday night, residents fought vigorously to keep it that way. Dozens of people packed into the Julian Methodist Church for an informative discussion on the future of the small fire department.

“The more I’ve learned about what the county or Cal Fire would actually provide to us, it’s pretty distressing,” said Pat Landis, organizer.

Landis told FOX 5 she organized the meeting after she learned more about the possible takeover by the county.  She said it’s a move that will leave the community in great jeopardy.

“At best we’ll have one engine with three people and we have that much or more right now,” said Landis.

“They can afford to have five of us at the station, I just don’t see Cal Fire doing that,” said Dave Gentry, a volunteer firefighter.

Gentry said it’s not only about manpower, but also dedication.

“Nobody sees that happen, that’s me and I'm mowing the lawn and I hear the station’s running calls, I’ll just go to the fire station and I’ll wait,” said Gentry.

He pointed out not only do he and his fellow firefighters know the town, but also the people.

“You go there, you know the circumstance, you know what his family has gone through, your kids have played ball together for crying out loud,” said Gentry. “You don’t see your captain getting teary-eyed after they transport somebody because he has grown up with that person.”

“Julian is a tight-knit town, I get that,” said Keith Krawiec, a member of the Julian Community Planning Group.

Krawiec said he understands the desire to keep firefighting local, but also said there is a bigger picture.

“Then again Julian is getting bigger, busier and I think we need more resources,” said Krawiec.

In September, the board of the fire protection district voted to stay independent. Then in February, the board changed its mind to reopen negotiations with the county.

The board meeting of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District is at 10 a.m.