Eureka Fire Department: As in any organization, planning plays a critical role in the success of the organization; fire protection delivery is no different. Here at Eureka Fire Department, we are working at several different levels to successfully plan for the future of community fire protection. First of which is the education of our elected leaders as to the concepts beyond an effective fire protection system. Noted below are two examples of our recent planning efforts.
Eureka City Council: The passage of time inevitably brings changes. Eureka today differs from the city of twenty or a hundred years ago; it differs from the city of yesterday. The future seems to be arriving at an ever-increasing pace and in ways that could damage the character and livability of the city. Eureka is an urban area - a fact that cannot be changed. The task facing us is to retain the most important characteristics of our city in the face of changes we cannot control and by managing, as well as possible, those forces we can control. We must accept some changes or we run the risk of losing all the things that make Eureka one of most desirable places to live on the north coast of California.
The qualities that make Eureka so livable continue to draw more households to the city. Land and housing costs continue to increase, as do the costs for providing needed public facilities and services. Planning for the future must respond to these factors while preserving the city's economic health and livability.
Eureka has historically developed into a land use pattern that is, and can continue to be, basically sound. Downtown Eureka is developing as the major activity center of the Humboldt Bay region, providing a financial, retail, cultural and residential core that is alive and energetic, and must remain so. This Strategic Visioning Plan calls for maintaining our basic development patterns while providing direction for responding to the future's demands.
In the years to come the Eureka skyline will certainly change, with new development in our core business districts, as well as unique, older areas being preserved. Both of these characteristics must work together to keep the city centers alive. Residential areas will retain their individual character but with some increase in density to reduce development pressures on undeveloped lands adjacent to city limits, increase energy efficiency and provide more affordable housing options. Neighborhoods will generally remain single-family oriented with owner-occupied houses strengthening neighborhood stability. Opportunities for rental units will cluster around corridors and centers, which have good access for public transportation systems to and from employment centers and shopping. Commercial and industrial activities will remain active and dynamic as existing businesses continue to grow and new businesses choose Eureka as their home.
Eureka's history and character have provided a sound foundation for the continued development of the city. The city must build on that foundation as we meet the challenges of the future and respond in a manner, which retains that unique "Eureka" character. To assist the city in addressing these future challenges the City Council of the City of Eureka developed the following Strategic Visioning Plan.
Standards of Coverage
One major issue the fire service has struggled with in the past decade is defining levels of service. There have been many attempts to create a standard methodology for determining how many firefighters, fire stations, or fire inspectors a community needs. This is especially true in this day and age when public service funding is diminishing, while service expectations continue to rise.
The diversity of fire service challenges in each community has defied efforts to create a "one size fits all" solution. It is not surprising therefore, that a national or state consensus has never been reached. To address this situation, the International Association of City Managers (ICMA) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) formed the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI).
This process uses a "systems" approach to deployment rather than a one-size-fits all prescriptive formula. In a comprehensive approach, each agency should be able to match local need (risks and expectations) with the costs of various levels of service. In an informed public policy debate, each city council or governing board "purchases" the fire and EMS protection (insurance) the community needs and can afford.
Eureka Fire Department and its closest neighbor, Humboldt Fire District #1 are about to embark on a “joint” Standards of Coverage study. Through this endeavor, it is our goal to identify the ideal fire protection system and configuration for the greater Eureka area.