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Reader Input: Lake County 911

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This month Lake County consolidated 911 fire dispatch services, after learning the hard way after the devastating 2015 Valley Fire, that having a fire dispatch system like what Placer County currently has split between multiple centers with overlapping jurisdictions does not work.

Neighboring Sacramento, El Dorado, and Nevada Counties are all served by successful consolidated regional 911 fire dispatch centers. In fact, El Dorado County had a Placer County type fire dispatch system. El Dorado County consolidated fire dispatch after suffering fire dispatching problems during a serious school bus accident. By contrast Placer County’s is the old “game of telephone” creating serious communication and coordination problems of dispatching fire resources.

Placer County should have consolidated fire dispatch into a single center after the destructive August 2009 Forty-Nine Fire north of Auburn. As the Forty-Nine Fire was devouring 62 homes and a couple of businesses The Auburn Fire Department failed to get dispatched, as a direct result of Placer County not having a consolidated fire dispatch. Worst, six years earlier the Placer County Grand Jury recommended that Placer County consolidate fire dispatch into a single center. The grand jury during their investigation noted that the fire chiefs were uncooperative, refused to turn over requested records, and many of the fire chief’s flat out lied to the grand jury in their response.

I would not expect Placer County, with its history of placing politics ahead of public safety, to do the right thing and consolidate fire dispatch into a single center after the recent firestorms. Placer County recently wasted $75,000 on a study to improve fire services. Since the county’s fire chief did not like the study’s findings, the study was never released. Let me guess? The study called for a single consolidated fire dispatch.


Mike Gray, Roseville