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Nevada County fire station sits closed amid fire season, chief wants it back open

There's fear in Nevada County one fire station could close for good
There's fear in Nevada County one fire station could close for good 02:21

NEVADA COUNTY — Some Nevada County residents will vote on a fire suppression assessment next month.

The Higgins Fire District serves 15,000 residents over 91 square miles. They have three fire stations, but only two are operating.

Fire Station 22 has sat closed for nearly a decade, and the fire district says it is losing out on precious time to save lives and fight fires.

They've tried to pass a tax measure three times in recent years to get station 22 back open, but they all failed. So, in a last-ditch effort, they're changing the language and saying this time, it's not a tax at all.

Fire Station 22 has essentially been left untouched since 2016 and has an engine just waiting to be put to use.

"Already in the dog bar area, we've had multiple escaped debris burns," said Higgins Fire Protection District Chief Joel Tam.

Chief Tam said the response times for fires would be significantly lowered if the station reopened—something some residents of Nevada County will be voting on.

"That could be the point of us catching it at the initial start to now actually having it take off and run, and now we're trying to catch it," he said.

However, it's not just fire response time. It's for medical calls and emergencies in an area known for spotty cell service. So now, Higgins Fire District is making one last effort to get station 22 back open and running.

There's been pushback from some members of the community who are worried it's just another tax. Chief Tam said it's not a tax at all. It's called a benefit assessment and they're holding town meetings to involve residents before ballots are due early next month, he added.

"We had to have a licensed engineer write up a report and state what we're going to do with this money and where it's going to go. What we're trying for now is to put boots on the ground to better protect them. This is not going for equipment or raises. It is just to staff that fire station," Tam said.

A town hall meeting is happening Wednesday night and ballots are due by mail or in the ballot box at the station off Combie Road on or before July 3.

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