Fire districts to join forces

KINGMAN - Three fire districts will soon become one. Chloride and Truxton fire district boards of directors passed resolutions on Monday to consolidate their forces with Hualapai Valley Fire District.

The HVFD Board unanimously accepted the two districts resolutions to form a consolidated district on Wednesday during a special meeting.

The new district board will meet on June 5 to name the new fire district and establish the new organization.

At that time, the existing boards of Truxton and Chloride Fire Districts will be dissolved.

According to a news release, the new district will serve approximately 65 square miles and 30,000 people.

It will include the North Kingman/Butler area, Valle Vista, Hackberry, Valentine, Truxton and Chloride.

The district will also annex the service area of the former Inland Fire District in the next month.

According to a news release, the district will have a total of eight stations with two new ones proposed for 2008-09.

It will have 16 fire engines, a ladder company, a paramedic squad, three water tenders, two brush engines, three command vehicles and one utility vehicle.

HVFD Chief Wayne Eder said the district plans to keep all of the current employees and add nine additional fire fighters to Valle Vista in July.

Residents in the new district will see some changes. The new fire district tax levy rate will be 2.88. This means that residents in Chloride may see a slight drop in the fire district rate, while residents in Truxton will see a slight increase in their rate.

Eder said Truxton residents with homes assessed at $100,000 might see an increase of about $20 on their tax bills.

Residents in the HVFD will see no increase in their taxes, he said.

According to Eder, residents will see a number of benefits from the consolidation of the three districts.

According to information from HVFD, the cost of running district elections and other services provided by the county will drop, administration and dispatch costs will drop, the districts will be able to recover costs and bill more efficiently, allowing the district to bring in more revenue and the cost of International Organization Standardization testing for equipment will decrease and improved ISO documentation will lead to lower insurance premiums for the district.

The district will see a big increase in revenue from the Arizona State Forestry Division and the Bureau of Land Management for its Wild Land Initial Attack program. The district will now have contracts for nearly 1,325 square miles of wild land area. The district estimates an increase of revenue of between $50,000 to $100,000 per year from the contracts.

The cost of purchasing equipment should decrease as well.

According to information from HVFD, HVFD and Valle Vista Fire District will see additional assistance in protecting the Hackberry and Valle Vista areas, as well as help with wildfires, a possible joint dispatch center, a savings of around $3 million a year on its budget and more grant funding.

Residents in the Chloride Fire District will see, according to HVFD, a savings due to the elimination of a district board, fire chief and budget, the assignment of a 24-hour firefighter/emergency medical technician, improved radio communication and use of a training facility.

Residents in Truxton will also benefit from the merger with the elimination of a district board, fire chief and budget, volunteers will be paid per call to help improve firefighter retention in the area, there will be assistance from the planned Hackberry fire station and the current Antares Road fire station, plus improved radio communication and use of a testing facility.

When HVFD merged with VVFD in 2007, the Valle Vista area saw a savings of $49,000 per year in administrative costs and an increase in services provided to the community, according to information provided by the HVFD.