Templeton Fire Dept. asks for community support to add 24/7 staf - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Templeton Fire Dept. asks for community support to add 24/7 staffing

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There are renewed efforts to get 24-hour coverage at Templeton Fire Department.  

A sign went up this week outside the Community Services District that reads "Save Templeton Fire."

Right now, the department operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Anytime after that, the firefighters are paid per call. If they stay the night, they're paid a stipend rather than an hourly wage. 

"Every year, we have more and more calls and that's just because the population has increased," said Fire Chief Bill White. 

With 10,000 people living in Templeton, Chief White says fire coverage needs to be 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

"I think that would be great. I think it would make response time a lot quicker," said Aly Allison, Templeton resident. 

When there are calls at night, three firefighters who live in town respond from their homes to the fire station. 

"It can get tiresome on all three of us," said Captain Brandon Wall. 

"If we have a call at night and nobody is here, it's six minutes from the time the call comes to somebody is here and is responding," said Chief White. 

When there is coverage, it's a three-minute response or quicker. 

But what it all comes down to is money. 

Chief White says the district is funded by property taxes. The district and recreation department get 8.4 cents per dollar, so now they're asking the county to increase that to 12-percent.   

Chief White estimates $457,000 is needed to be able to provide 24-hour coverage.   

First District Supervisor John Peschong of Templeton is supportive and looking at options.   

"Is it out of the general fund budget? Is it put into the budget for next year?" Peschong said. 

Right now, the department has a captain and, usually, two paid call firefighters from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If funding allows, one additional full-time person would be hired along with another full-time relief engineer. That would put three people on an engine -- a captain, engineer and a firefighter.

Back in 2015, a survey was done by a professional company which said, in the long run, $1.6 million would be needed to provide three full-time personnel per shift, or an additional eight employees.

If the funds don't come, Chief White says they might have to dissolve, like Cayucos Fire. 

"If something isn't done within three to four years, that could be a distinct possibility," he said. 

The district is considering a benefit assessment that could mean a mail-in vote for residents to decide.   

Templeton Fire has a mutual aid agreement with Atascadero and Paso Robles Fire as well as CAL FIRE.   

The department is asking community members to join the Friends of Templeton Fire & Emergency Services to get involved and learn more about this topic. To sign up, visit the fire department.

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