Just when you were beginning to think the Consolidated Fire District was embarking on a rational course of action, the board members revert to kind of thinking we’ve come to expect from the county’s most dysfunctional government agency.
When its most recent chief resigned after just three months on the job, the board decided to discuss the possibility of merging with other fire agencies in western Nevada County. Grass Valley and Nevada have interim chiefs, and Penn Valley’s chief will retire at the end of June.
Consolidations have a better chance of succeeding when there aren’t a lot of high-paying jobs on the line, and a meeting of all local agencies took place Wednesday under the guidance of Supervisor Hank Weston, a retired fire chief.
But Consolidated Fire couldn’t leave well enough alone. The board decided last week to hire a new chief while it pursues consolidation talks. Why anybody who’s any good would take a job he might lose in a short period of time apparently didn’t occur to the directors.
Weston, who has been asked to midwife a possible consolidation or sharing of resources, said the impediments to combining forces “are the chiefs and board members. The chiefs don’t want to lose their positions, and the board members don’t want to lose their power.”
This is not a new issue. The Board of Supervisors commissioned a study in 1992 that concluded that consolidation “would decrease duplication and increase efficiency, enhance fire protection activities, provide more optimal use of available resources, and lead to reduced costs in the future.”
The future is now, and if there’s a group that needs to be consolidated out of business, it’s the Consolidated Fire board.