Talks of new fire district in Josephine County

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — A new fire district is being considered in Josephine County that would cover residents who currently live in structurally unprotected areas.

According to Firesmart Merlin, The idea is something that has been brought up before. In 2010, voters decided not to create a new fire district.

Nine years later, the topic came up again at a county commissioner meeting. Commissioners asked the public if they wanted to consider the idea again, and 65 percent of them said yes.

Certain areas in Josephine County are covered by specific fire districts like Illinois Valley Fire, Applegate Fire, and Williams Fire. Grants Pass is protected by the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety.

But some areas are left unprotected, which leaves the residents to pay for fire services. Those in more rural parts of Josephine County can pay for Rural Metro Fire or County Fire to protect their home.

If a fire breaks out on the property of the residents who opt out of paying for protective services, a fire agency will respond anyway and then bill the resident later.

Firesmart Merlin held a meeting on Monday night in Merlin to educate and inform those living in unprotected lands, what it would mean to have a fire district.

“I want information, we need a feasibility statement, we need to know what can we do with our money,” Janet Lancaster with Firesmart Merlin, said. “Can we do more with the resources that we currently paying at the same tax rate? Can we share that cost, because 70 percent of the people that are paying are really paying for 100 percent of the people.”

The idea is in the early stages of the process. The next step to furthering the proposal would be to create a committee to fire out how much taxes would need to be and what specific areas would be included in the district.

If you want more information on the potential district, or want to know how to apply for the committee, email [email protected]

For clarification, this is not the same proposal as the separation of the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety measure on the upcoming ballot.

It could be a year or more before a new fire district would make it on the ballot.

Blakely McHugh is co-anchor of NBC5 News at Sunrise and spokesperson for In This Together, a suicide prevention initiative. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Blakely is a native of San Diego, CA. Blakely is excited to be in southern Oregon, a place that gets all the seasons and has similar temperatures to Arizona in the summer! When she’s not at work, you can find her relaxing at home watching TV and cuddling with her cat, Dallas. She also enjoys trying new places to eat and exploring the outdoors. Blakely loves meeting new people so if you see her out and about, say “hi!”
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