County station chief in limbo

June 18, 2003 11:00 pm

By ABBY SOUZA

Fire Chief Ray Parsons is Jamestown Fire Protection District's only paid employee. The only others working out of the district's Fourth Avenue firehouse are two volunteers.

But, if Tuolumne County Fire Department's reorganization plans go forward, two full-time fire captains will be stationed there beginning in mid-2004.

And Parsons' job will be gone. That is, unless county administrative staff and the Tuolumne County Fire Department can find a way to keep him on duty.

County fire officials presented a two-part plan to county supervisors on how to better serve the west part of the county once the department's station on Forest Road in Sonora moves east to the Standard area.

Part 1 of the plan, which supervisors approved Tuesday, formalizes a fee-for-service program with the Jamestown Fire Protection District.

Under the new plan, the Jamestown crew will be paid to respond to calls beyond their own district boundaries after the Sonora station moves in July 2004.

Staffing shifts are a major aspect of the plan's second part. To offset rising employee contract costs, it shifts many firefighters to new stations and changes a number of positions.

For example, two fire truck drivers from the Mono Village station would be upgraded to fire captains and be transferred to the Jamestown station in fiscal year 2004-05 — making the fee-for-service agreement and Parsons' post unnecessary.

But Parsons' job is of special interest to Supervisor Dick Pland, who represents James-town.

"He's been the glue holding it together down there," Pland said.

Parsons, a 1981 Sonora High School graduate, became a firefighter at age 18. He became the Jamestown chief in early 1995 after working there for 10 years. His father, Jake, was a volunteer and assistant chief for the Sonora Fire Department when Parsons was a boy.

When Pland asked at Tuesday's meeting where Parsons fits into the many staffing shifts, Assistant County Fire Warden Andrew McMurry replied that the plan "wouldn't include him in a rollover."