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September 28, 2021

Cal Fire moves into Bonny Doon

With little fanfare — even though some was attempted — the Santa Cruz County Fire Department has established its first paid engine company in Bonny Doon.
Cal Fire firefighters on Engine 1763 went “in service” at 8 a.m. Monday, May 4, next to the McDermott Station of Bonny Doon Fire and Rescue Team.
Their engine, a new Model 34 Rosenbauer rig on an International chassis, is designed for wildland firefighting but has all the equipment necessary for structure firefighting as well, according to firefighter Steve Chubb.
Chubb and fire engineer Anthony Anderson were on duty Monday, May 11. In a week or two, the engine company will grow to four when wildland fire season is declared.
So far, the company has averaged one or two calls a day, most of them for medical emergencies. Bonny Doon’s volunteers also responded on calls requiring more than one engine, Anderson said.
“They’re definitely still needed,” Chubb said.
All calls but one have been within the company’s initial response area, unchanged from when it had been stationed in Felton. The exception was to cover the station at University of California, Santa Cruz, while the UC firefighters helped fight a restaurant fire on the Santa Cruz Wharf.
The Cal Fire firefighters work three straight 24-hour days, then have four days off.
Some Dooners and members of the fire team have not smiled at the idea of having Cal Fire in town. They have said it will blunt their campaign to form an independent fire protection district and could relegate the local volunteers to second-class status.
County Supervisor Neal Coonerty tried to ease the tension by staging an open house on May 7. But primary community groups didn’t receive invitations and news media notification was spotty, so only a handful of guests showed up for the ribbon-cutting.
The engine company sleeps in a three-bedroom house being renovated on the McDemott Station property and works out of a modular office building built next to the house. The engine is parked outdoors while County Fire considers whether to build a garage.
Moving the engine company to Bonny Doon was suggested by the countywide Local Agency Formation Commission after it turned down Bonny Doon’s application to form the proposed independent fire district.
That decision has been challenged in a lawsuit. Boony Doon fire team directors hope to win a court order for LAFCo to consider the application again.
To comment, e-mail editor Chuck Anderson at [email protected], call 438-2500 or post a comment at www.pressbanner.com.

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