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Rough and Ready Fire Department to close by June, fundraising for peak wildfire season

Nevada County fire department to close by June
Nevada County fire department to close by June 02:31

ROUGH AND READY -- The Rough and Ready Fire Department in remote Nevada County will likely not have enough funding to stay open past June, according to one of the department's board of directors.

The tax allocation for the Rough and Ready Fire Department—just under $500,000—is enough to run the building, the trucks, and the firefighting. It is not enough to pay for the four full-time firefighters who staff the station. In the last five years, the Rough and Ready Fire Department transitioned from a volunteer-only department to a paid staff.

The change: California's fire marshal mandated that firefighters take the state's training through the fire academy. This training is costly and time-consuming, and doesn't match the volunteer aspect of the job—it's more than that.

"It's very hard for them to do that and then just volunteer their time, they look at this as a profession, as they should. They are very well trained, paid people, and we hate to lose them. It's the evolution of going from the volunteer department to all paid staff." said Doug Whittler, who represents the Rough and Ready Fire Department's Board of Directors.

Whittler explained that the closure of the department could still be avoided through possible solutions that include consolidating the department under the umbrella of another larger department, rezoning the fire districts, and consolidating positions in administration to save money to pay firefighters on the frontlines.

In the meantime, the department will fundraise by selling Rough and Ready town merchandise to fully staff the station in the summer months, when wildfire risk is at its highest.

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