Pertaining to the workshop meeting last night at the 29 Palms Community Center to discuss the future of fire services in 29 Palms, there is an apparent if not alarming lack of leadership from 29 Palms. That was evident at last night’s joint workshop sponsored by the Twentynine Palms Water Board (TPWD).
Last night the community joint workshop took place to discuss inter alia the future structure, governance and operation the 29 Palms Fire Department. One thing for sure is that the 29 Palms Water District (TPWD) has exercised its sole authority to divest itself of its management and control of the 29 Palms Fire Department.
Those present at last night’s workshop were: County fire, 29 Palms Fire, TPWD & staff, LAFCO, all the 29 Palms City Council members — accompanied by legal council A. Patrick Munoz and City Manager Richard Warne. Most important of all, many people from the public sector were present.
The good news is that it was an informative presentation by County Fire, TPWD and LAFCO. The bad news is there was an absence of leadership from the City Manager or his five lackadaisical city councilmen. Once again, however, it need be noted, City Councilman Jim Harris is to be commended because he was the most vigorous in terms of asking question on some important issues. He praised the 29 Palms Fire Department and its honorable Fire Chief Thomson. Nonetheless, Councilman Harris — like his peers on the city council — did not show leadership.
Why was there no leadership from the city?
Here is why. County Fire is “absolutely” willing to take over fire services now covered by the 29 Fire Department. However, there was a ubiquitous and foreboding dark pale on the North side of the room whereupon city leaders were seated with their leader, City Manager Richard Warne.
The city councilmen seem bent of letting the chips fall where they may. It was like, “Oh, well, whatever you all want to do.” There was no concern shown about the possible closure of the Lear Station should county fire expand its sphere of influence, annex the entire water district area, and assume the services and the special tax by creating a new service zone. There was no assurances from county fire it would remain open. Experts sources seem to believe if county fire take over, Lear Station will eventually closed.
The city councilmen main concern seemed to be who takes over the new latter fire truck and its payment obligations? Who takes control of fire equipment; could 29 fire personnel be incorporated into county fire? – and such was the direction of the question from the city.
Should the Lear Station close, the city 29 Palms will loose. This is so because when there is a fire in town, both stations respond. Absent the Lear station, god forbid should there be simultaneous fires in the city. The Lear station will not be there to assist, especially if one of the schools has a fire. As Chief Thompson explained earlier this year, well over 96% of all the calls that come in come from within the city.
Couple this with expected catastrophic acts of nature such as massive flooding, extreme static wind cells or the expected massive earthquake, 29 could be on its own. That Lear station is vital to public safety.
It’s almost like it’s a done deal with the city… sure take it over we don’t care. The city wants all the glory of a sparkling desert city but is short on leadership when it comes to fire safety and a fire department with the 29 Palms brand.
June of this year, Fire Chief Thompson explained “Twentynine Palms receives the highest percentage of ad valorem tax revenue of any city in the county, yet none of it goes to fund fire services for its citizens.” Excellent question. Wouldn’t those funds that ought to go to the 29 fire department be best to go to 29 fire?
City leaders desire to further develop 29 Palms into a progressive, modern desert community with a thriving art community. That is a worthy goal, however, their lack of leadership in retaining a fire department under the city’s brand is surely frustrating. You’d think at best they would be querying county fire and making certain that their backup at the Lear station would remain in place.
Absent visible leadership from the city, this process will take time more time. As TPWD Board President Philip Cisneros stated earlier, “We don’t have a lot of time.”
Back in June, the Desert Trail reported Councilman Corbin stated, “It could be a question of scaling back operations based on available funds until we find the best long-term solution for the community.” Correctly stated, but stated another way the entire community and its businesses could be in peril. Where were the “long-term solution” last night from the city?
It was a good first step joint meeting, and most certainly another or more joint meetings will be scheduled.
Twentynine Palms Fire Chief Thompson was in the field and not available for comment at the time of this posting.
Incoming search terms:
- 29 palms fire station to close
- branson fire department
- fire rescue