Groveland Fire overseen by state

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat /

An agreement that's been in the works for months to turn personnel duties for the Groveland Fire Department over to the state is official.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced Friday that the cooperative agreement between Cal Fire and the Groveland Community Services District was set to begin today.

The firefighters manning the GCSD fire station will be employed and managed by Cal Fire under a contract with the Groveland district and Tuolumne County.

Two firefighters will be on duty 24 hours a day, according to the announcement.

"We are very excited to welcome the Groveland fire district and its firefighters … and look forward to a great relationship to provide fire protection to the residents of the district and the other areas," Steve Lawshe, acting unit chief for Cal Fire's Tuolumne Calaveras unit said in the announcement.

The GCSD Board of Directors in August voted to hand personnel duties to the state agency. The agreement - which amends the county's fire protection contract with the state - required a lengthy period transferring the Groveland firefighters into the state system.

The department previously had a full-time Groveland fire chief and a department administrative assistant. Shane Warner resigned as chief during discussions of the move and the assistant position was eliminated.

District leadership started working on restructuring the fire department in June, after a tax proposal that would have raised about $300,000 for department operations failed at the polls. The tax would have replaced a 10-year special assessment, which raised revenue for the department's $1.2 million annual budget.

When the tax measure failed, the GCSD Board of Directors started working in earnest to figure out how to structure the department moving forward. The board held many special meetings, often filled with community members, and reviewed multiple proposals for department operations. Along with Warner, board member Roy Conley resigned amid those deliberations.

The GCSD service area includes 15 square-miles covering communities of Pine Mountain Lake, Big Oak Flat and Groveland.

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The Union Democrat
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