Friday Sep 07 2018
South Placer Fire District Chief says station doing wellBy: Brody Fernandez Of Gold Country Media
South Placer Fire District Chief Eric Walder showed his family side during Tuesday’s monthly Loomis Town Talks sponsored by and at the Loomis Library and Community Learning Center.
The Town Talks, co-hosted by the Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce, is a public forum for residents and officials to listen to each other.
During his speech, Walder took a call from his son.
“He’s a new driver, folks, and he’s 17 so I just needed to know he’s OK,” Walder said.
It turns out the chief’s son just had a question for dad.
Then Walder answered questions from the audience. His answers follow.
How busy is the Loomis station?
“We’re a very busy station (28). We are able to get advanced life support on all our engines, which is a big deal. We work hand in hand with A.M.R. on a daily basis. We do fire, emergency medical services, rescue and we’re really an all-hazards-type station here in Loomis. We are the most solvent fire district in the county, thanks to the town of Loomis when they saved the fire district with the benefit assessment several years ago. Right now, we are anything but in trouble (referencing the Forest Hill Fire department closing multiple stations this year). We serve about 40,000 people annually with a $13.5 million budget through property taxes, benefit assessments and other sources of revenue like the strike team revenue and so forth.”
How is the Loomis Fire Station doing with response times?
Well, we have 700 to 750 medical calls a year in the Loomis area. We’re big and red and people tend to get out of our way so our response times are very quick and that's good. We have a very cooperative community who supports their firefighters and emergency services personnel.”
What are the future of burn permits with the fire season being year round now?
“Well, during fire season, there are no burn permits. When we do have our first rains this fall, then we will start distributing fire permits once our CAL FIRE (Placer) Battalion Chief gives me the ok.”
How much do you work with CAL FIRE?
“Half of our district is in the state (CAL FIRE) district so we coordinate with them on a daily basis for information updates and resource availabilities regarding wildland or vegetation fires. My goal as Loomis chief is to have the fire out before CAL FIRE gets there if there’s a fire here since they are responsible for the wildland and I’m responsible for the structures within the town.”
How many women are in your fire department?
Four women out of 65 but my goal is to be as diverse as we can. Unfortunately, the demographic that wants to be a firefighter are usually big strong guys but I want to be as diverse as we can.”
What can we do to prevent fires?
“Fireplaces are my biggest precaution I would urge. If you’re burning wood, the ashes you want to store in a metal container and please make sure those ashes are dead. Misplacing live wood ashes every year results in at least two or three fires in our district. All as a result of live ashes from fire places not being properly discarded. These things can be easily prevented and everyone needs to set defensible space around their house and property.”
Is the station changing from station 28 to station 18?
"Yes. We are changing the station number to 18. Back in the day when we did have Loomis Fire before the consolidation of South Placer, the Loomis station was 18 and all the chiefs back then decided to change the station number when South Placer got involved and Loomis became 28 and South Placer became 17. So now we have 18 wide open and we are bringing it back. All the old time Loomis firefighters I’ve talked to love that we are bringing it back and that's really cool.”
Town Councilman Baker also answered questions from the audience. His answers follow.
With one parcel currently up for sale in Loomis (next to High Hand Cafe), what would you like to see there?
For that parcel, it should be something similar than that of the High Hand. I want multiple locally- owned business, that would be my aim. I would love to see something that looked like a fruit shed too.”
What’s the status on the Village in Loomis?
“Right now, we’ve just been getting little bits and pieces (from the developer). I'm told that within the next several weeks, we could be getting something for review.”
What’s the status on Costco?
“We can’t make a deal with Costco. We have to work out and mitigate traffic and things like that. There’s not a ton we can do as a municipality. There are definitely benefits to building on the Loomis side but Costco has expressed to us they want to be here in Loomis.”