Kenwood Fire board expanding
Applications due Jan. 15, 2019
While adding two more members to the Kenwood Fire Protection District’s (KFPD) Board of Directors may not seem like a lot, it’s a major step forward in preparing for the future of fire protection in Sonoma County. Two new directors will be appointed to the existing three-person board on or shortly after Jan. 22, 2019.
Kenwood’s fire district was formed in 1946 with a three-person board and has remained in that configuration ever since. Today’s complex fire fighting and emergency response training and staffing needs have placed heavy demands on the directors to plan and prepare for a growing community and increasing fire and safety threats.
The KFPD depended solely on volunteers for its direction and operation up to 1993, when it started hiring staff. As the district continues to hire staff and finds volunteers more difficult to recruit, and as the county continues to seek consolidation of its numerous small fire districts into more manageable and economic organizations, having greater resources and expertise to draw on becomes essential to continued high quality operations.
Increasing the number of directors was first raised in early July by Assistant Chief Ben Gulson on behalf of the Kenwood Firefighter’s Association, and it was unanimously approved at a special board meeting on July 25.
The resolution stated that, “for practical and sensible governance by the governing body, including maintenance of a decision making quorum at all times, the ability to form ad-hoc committees to study and report on complex issues without violation of Brown Act rules, and the anticipated future complex negotiations leading to operational consolidation with adjacent fire agencies, it is desired to increase the number of elected members from three to five.”
Every other fire district in the county has at least five people on their boards. Having only three means that no two can discuss fire district business outside of an agendized, noticed meeting under California’s strict Brown Act public meeting laws. If one member can’t make a meeting, no decisions can be made. Adding two more directors will cure these problems and bring more oversight abilities to the district.
The board expansion application was approved on Dec. 5 by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), which has oversight over most special districts, like fire, sewer, water, when initially forming or when undertaking any changes in governance.
According to the official notice issued by the KFPD on Dec. 12, “Interested parties should submit a letter of intent along with brief resume to KFPD, Board Vacancy, 9045 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood, CA 95452 by Jan. 15, 2019.”
Applicants must live within the KFPD boundaries. To find out if you reside in the district, look at your property tax bill. Properties in the district show an annual assessment for the KFPD.
County rules allow 60 days to make appointments after the official notice is made. If no appointments have been made within 90 days, the Board of Supervisors has the authority to make them.
Applicants will be interviewed by the current board of directors – Dennis McIntosh, John Cooper, and Jim Kempers – along with Fire Chief Daren Bellach, and interviews will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the fire station, located at 9045 Sonoma Hwy. in Kenwood. Appointments will be made after the candidate interviews and a deliberation period. The three KFPD directors will make the initial appointments.
The first vacancy is for two years of a four-year term and the second is for a four-year term. Both terms begin approximately Feb. 1, 2019, and are subject to re-election by district voters at the Uniform District Election on Dec. 4, 2020 and for the second appointment on Dec. 2, 2022.
For more information about KFPD, you can read a recently approved 78-page policy guide that was adopted at the board’s Dec. 11 monthly meeting. It will be available at the fire department’s website, www.kenwoodfire.com, or contact Chief Bellach at 833-2042 or firstname.lastname@example.org.