Letters to the Editor July 22, 2020

Invest in Arcata Fire or your insurance company

Did you know we could reduce or maintain our homeowners and/or business insurance premiums by investing in our local fire department and community? California uses the Insurance Services Office (ISO) system to analyze and process data for the property and casualty insurance industry. Most insurance companies use ISO data and different algorithms to determine risk so they can set insurance premiums for each property they insure. Fire departments and communities are evaluated every five years to identify what level of fire protection they can provide. The ISO system rates fire department and communities on a scale of one to ten. L.A. City Fire Department has an ISO rating of one. Communities with no fire protection system or services have a rating of ten. The more well equipped your fire department is to put out a fire, the less likely your house or business is to burn down. This makes the property less risky and less expensive to insure.

Insurance companies use formulas to determine their insurance rates. The formulas are complex and always changing. For example, following the 2018 wildland fire season in California, the formulas changed significantly due to the extreme loss of property and life in our state. To keep things simple, the lower the fire departments rating/score, the lower the premiums.

If communities invest in their fire department and the water supply system in their community, they can have a positive impact on the fire departments ability to extinguish fires. Insurance companies understand that the capability of a fire department directly affects the risk they have when insuring property. If the community wants lower insurance premiums then they must invest in their fire department to ensure it is properly staffed, trained, and equipped.

Following the recent failure of Measure R on the March 2020 ballot, the Arcata Fire District has reduced staffing by one-third and is rotating station closures. If this continues, the District’s ISO rating/score will worsen and insurance premiums will likely increase for residents and business owners. The only way to maintain the Districts current rating and is to re-open all three fire stations and return District staffing to what is was.

The communities of McKinleyville, Arcata, Bayside, Jacoby Creek, and Manila can invest in their fire department and infrastructure, providing input on how their taxes are spent locally, or they can pay what their insurance company charges them without control of what the premiums are. Investing in your fire department allows you to have a say how your money is used and puts your fire department in a position to be successful.

For more information about how the ISO Rating System works, please contact Arcata Fire District, (707) 825-2000.

Sean Campbell

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Low cost, high value

I am advocating for the new Fire District Measure in the upcoming November election. 

The Arcata Fire District is one of the largest fire districts in California. The facts are, it covers McKinleyville, Bayside, 2.75 miles of Jacoby Creek Road, Old Arcata Road to Indianola Rd including the Humboldt Area Foundation buildings and property, five miles out West End Road, out to Glendale Avenue off of 299, 4.5 miles up Fickle Hill Road, Manila and Arcata. The AFD serves close to 37,000 people, and includes Mad River Hospital, Humboldt State University, the county airport and numerous schools.

Currently, because Measure R did not pass in March (it only lost by 3 percent of the necessary votes), it only has 15 career firefighters, one Battalion Chief (supervisor), the Chief and one clerical staff to cover this entire area. They serve 24/7, 365 days per year. A full staff is normally 21 fire fighters and four Chief officers. You can see the problem!

The AFD is our fire district. The services last year (2019) were: Rescue and EMS calls 46 percent, Service calls ( a non emergency “service” like lift assist off of the floor) 25 percent, Good Intent calls 15 percent, False alarms 6 percent, hazards 3 percent and fires 5 percent. Although fire calls seem a low percentage, if it is your house or business that is burning, it comes to the forefront of your life. 

Did you know that legally firefighters cannot go in to a burning structure if only one truck is there? They have to wait for another truck to arrive. With little or no close backup, this can be a long time which means much burning and no rescuing. It’s the law. A heartbreaking situation to all involved, but nevertheless the law.

We need our fire district to be fully staffed in order to get full service. We need all three stations in our district to be staffed 24/7. Currently we can only afford to rotate and have two open at a time. The placement of the three stations was not random. They were strategically placed to be able to access the citizens of the fire district in a timely manner. 

How long are you willing to let your house or business burn, or wait for an EMS person to arrive to save a loved one? Is 10 to 15 minutes too long? Probably.

Please join me in voting YES to get the Arcata Fire District back to where it needs to be to serve you. Its your fire district. Its my fire district. 56 cents per day ($17 per month) for a single residence seems so small when the stakes are so high.

Elena David

How we got here

I truly believe everyone supports the fire service and hold what they do in high regard. I also totally believe the people in the fire service do this because they care and want to be of service to the community they live in and serve. 

In 2019, the Arcata Fire District, which includes all of McKinleyville, Arcata, Manila, Bayside and Jacoby Creek, responded to 3,860 calls for help or assistance. They responded to structure fires, smoke checks, car accidents, rescues, heart attacks, lift assists and the smell of gas as quickly as possible. 

Since the closure of the third station, the District’s response times have increased by 17 percent. Additionally, with only two stations handling calls, 35 percent of the time both crews are simultaneously on emergency runs. Now more than ever the District relies on its neighbors, Blue Lake, Fieldbrook, Samoa, and Humboldt Bay to assist with any major incident.

Arcata Fire is a Special District. This means they are a standalone public entity. Their sole purpose is fire and rescue response to the 62 square mile district. Arcata Fire receive no funds from sales taxes like a city or the county. Arcata Fire District receives no funding from the city of Arcata. 

The county Board of Supervisors or city councils has no control over or access to the Arcata Fire District funds which can only be used to service the Fire District. Funding for your Fire District is from a 1996 Special Tax and a 2006 Benefit Assessment. After 2006 this level of revenue allowed your Fire District to staff both the McKinleyville Station and the Mad River Station with two full time firefighters. 

The Arcata Fire station, owned by the Arcata Volunteer Firefighters’ Association, was a volunteer only response until 2012. Before 2012 your fire district averaged around 2,400 calls per year. As the volunteer firefighter recruitment became difficult, the District received federal grants to fund staffing of the Arcata station with two full time firefighters. 

The District tried in 2015 to pass Measure A to address operating costs of three stations, which failed. The District continued operating three stations through grants, then used capital improvement and contingency fund reserves to maintain staffing levels after the grants expired.

With the depletion of reserve funds, the District had to again request a funding increase for the 2020 budget year to maintain three stations, Measure R. However, Measure R failed in March of 2020. The District is back to funding levels and staffing at pre-2012 level with minimal augmented staffing from volunteers, but with the 2019 levels of calls to respond to.

Roy Willis

Thanks and appreciation

I want to respond to too many significant July 1 Union articles for the space and time I have, but here goes.

First, a big thank you to Greg Orsini for his 30 years of service to McKinleyville’s infrastructure and community well-being. We have benefited greatly from his strength, knowledge, kindness and even-handed management of MCSD.

Thank you to Sean Campbell for his 30 years of service and convincing explanation of the need to pass the upcoming funding measure for the Arcata Fire District

Thanks to Jack Durham and Daniel Mintz for their consistently relevant and reliable reporting.

And thanks to Dr Frankovich, Sheriff Honsal, Kelley Garrett, Centro DelPueblo, Garth Sundberg, Steve Madrone aand our Board of Supervisors for their dedication to our health, safety, quality of life, and equity. 

How to accurately understand and balance the complex diversity of needs in a community is always a challenge. Personal, public, cultural, national, racial, human, animal and environmental welfare and rights seem destined to clash, and I appreciate those who are willing to struggle for the difficult answers. 

I hope we can help each other avoid getting locked into our positions and sidetracked in blame, and stay focused on finding creative solutions in these unusually critical times. 

Joyce King

Vote by mail

It’s official! All registered voters in the State of California will receive a ballot in the mail for the Nov. 3 election, even if they didn’t check the VOTE-BY-MAIL box on their Voter Registration Application.

To be ready to vote make sure your mailing address is correct, and it may be different from your home address. Your home address determines what precinct you vote in and what local candidates you vote for.

Besides a change of address, you may have changed your name, citizenship status, or become of voting age since the last election, if so, you need to re- register or register to vote. If you are 17 years old but will turn 18 years old on or before election day Nov. 3, you can register and vote.

The Humboldt County Registrar at 2426 Sixth St. Eureka is following COVID-19 rules with a limited number of visitors at one time. They would be happy to answer your questions at (707) 445-7481.

If you request it, a Voter Registration Application will be mailed to you. The red box you sign on the Voter Registration Application is an affadavit. This is your legal signature. Be sure to sign your ballot exactly like you did on your Voter Registration Application.

ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION: registertovote.ca.gov, voterstatus.sos.ca.gov, sos.ca.gov/elections/castudentsvote 

Ballots are mailed to voters in early October. If you plan to vote, act now!

Christine Will

Lewis was a giant

John Lewis was a giant of the civil rights movement. Despite his diminutive stature, he stood taller than any other figure of this century. 

Towering over white supremacists and over the minority of protesters both locally and nationally who resorted to violence during recent protests, his moral leadership and demonstration of the effectiveness of peaceful protest show the flaccidity of both the clowns in white sheets and those with spray paint cans and hammers.

John Dillon

Bohn’s priorities

Supervisor Rex Bohn, who has long supported our youth baseball league, spoke at the last Board of Supervisors meeting to growing economic fear in the small business community due to the impacts of COVID-19. 

On July 15 we had eight new cases in one day. This points to a troubling trend. At the end of February, all the United States had ONLY 15 cases (and Trump assured us, “that would soon be close to zero”). We now have 3.5 million.

Dr. Teresa Frankovich, the county’s health officer, said that the “drivers of travel-acquired infections in our community have been our own residents, leaving and coming back to the area.” (Mad River Union, July 12: Health officer says social mingling “not safe”).

As last reported, Humboldt Eagles and the Northern Humboldt Giants of our local youth baseball league have said they will continue their schedule of away games, outside of the county. In fact the entire Eagles team just returned from a four day tournament in Reno, Nev.

It would seem that if Supervisor Bohn is concerned about the economic impact of COVID-19, he would do all he can to convince youth baseball that whether or not they follow guidelines which call for the suspension all group sports in the county, they should absolutely suspend away games for the balance of the season. 

Please contact Rex at (707) 476-2391 or: [email protected] and ask him to use his influence. 

Speaking of balls, this caution was recently reported on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website, headlined: Rising Concern on Damaged Testis of COVID-19 Patients.

To suspend the practice of sending busloads of kids out of the county for multi-day tournaments seems a reasonable sacrifice on the part of the teams to save both lives and livelihoods (and possibly their own manhood)!

Richard Salzman



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