Arcata Fire commissions equity plan

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE/ARCATA – The Arcata Fire District Board of Directors voted unanimously July 14 to create a “racial equity action plan.”

The district will pay Stepping Stone Diversity Consulting, a local company, about $800 to create the plan. The money will come from a fund donated by Debbie Davis in memory of her late husband, George Alan Davis, a 41-year veteran firefighter who died in 2015. 

The fund is intended for training and projects that improve the fire department, which covers McKinleyville, Arcata, Bayside, Manila and Jacoby Creek.

Melissa Meiris

Stepping Stone co-directors Aristea Saulsbury and Melissa Meiris will meet with district staff to discuss existing policies, procedures and community relationships.

They will survey district staff, analyze the results, meet with district leadership and “draft a report of findings, including completing a racial equity analysis protocol and an initial Racial Equity Action Plan,” according to a information submitted to the district by the company.

Arcata Fire Chief Justin McDonald said that the idea started when he attended a June 1 gathering at the Eureka Police Department, where numerous officials gathered to protest hate in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Listening to the speakers at the event caused me to look inward at our organization as to how we can ensure that we do our part by not allowing hate, bias and racism to be part of our organization and communities we serve,” McDonald wrote in a report to the board.

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Tax measure advances

Also at the July 14 meeting, the board voted unanimously to place a tax measure on the Nov. 3 ballot. The measure is similar to the one that was defeated on March  3. 

If the measure passes on Nov. 3, a typical single-family home would pay $118 a year in additional property tax. That money would be used to hire additional firefighters to keep the district’s three station open.

AFD is currently closing one station on a rotating basis.



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