Lake Valley Fire starts facing changes, needs new chief |

Lake Valley Fire starts facing changes, needs new chief

Board Chairperson Robert Bettencourt presents members of the Golden Bear community with the Firewise USA declaration.
Laney Griffo/Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Lake Valley Fire Protection District this week started facing big changes that includes searching for a new chief, rethinking its failed ballot measure and the possibility of being supported by CalFire.

The district is looking to hire a new fire chief this summer, the Board of Directors approved the job description during its Wednesday, March 11 meeting.

Chief Tim Alameda, who has been in the position since 2016, will leave his position on May 9.

“I’m no longer going to be wearing navy blue, I’m no longer going to be carrying a radio,” Alameda said. Most importantly, he’ll get to enjoy being a new grandfather.

The district has posted the position and is accepting applications until April 17. The board will conduct final interviews in May and hopes to have the new chief in place by July 1.

The meeting started with a celebration of the Golden Bear community, which became the first Firewise USA designated neighborhood in the district. The designation comes from the National Fire Protection Association and was given to the community after they wildfire hazard assessment, developed an action plan to guide their efforts to reduce the risk of wildfire in their community, coordinated a community evacuation drill and created a neighborhood website for dissemination of information as it relates to crises and natural disasters.

The effort was community driven and the efforts leaders have volunteered to help other communities get the designation.

“We couldn’t have better role models for our other communities,” said board member Leona Allen.

The board also did a recap of Measure B, a measure that would’ve raised taxes so the district could replace some of its aging equipment.

Results from the March 3 election have not been certified and El Dorado County still has about 1,000 mail in ballots to count. However, the measure needed 66% to pass and only received about 62%. Even with the additional ballots outstanding, the measure appears defeated.

Despite the defeat, the board was proud of the work the district did.

“Understand how difficult the task was and how well you did,” said board member Brian Hogan.

Board member Gary Moore said even with defeat, a lot of positives came out of the process, including team building.

Engineer Dusty LaChapelle spearheaded the effort to get information out about the measure prior to the election. He urged the board to consider putting the measure back on the ballot in November stating, “we just lost round one, we’re not knocked out.”

The board seemed open to the idea and has until July to submit the measure to be on the ballot.

With losing by such a small margin, LaChapelle and the board discussed a strategy to get it passed in the future, including knocking on more doors and trying to convince voters who didn’t get out in March to go vote.

Part of the reason the measure failed was because of misinformation that claimed the tax increase would go towards salary increases.

According to Alameda, the staff is already underpaid and recently turned down a pay increase to help keep the district budget more balanced. They also have to counteract rumors that they make $50,000 or more a year.

“Some of the things people in the community have said about us is just shameful,” Alameda said.

The board also received a presentation from CalFire about the district entering into a contract with CalFire that would, in a way, have CalFire support the district.

The district would maintain its identity but the employees would become state employees, which would give them more job stability and better benefits.

CalFire would also rent equipment from the district which would potentially give the district extra money to update the equipment.

The district is still considering the contract and it could take a year and a half or more before the contract is finalized.

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