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East County - SD Regional Fire Foundation provides $276,000 grant to county for communications equipment for rural fire departments

June 9, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)—The San Diego County Board of Supervisors today accepted a donation of $276,000 from the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation for the purchase of  80 AVL (automatic vehicle locator) equipment for rural San Diego fire departments.

AVL enables dispatchers to see where every fire vehicle is located and send the closest unit to an emergency, no matter which fire department it belongs to. This can significantly reduce response times potentially saving lives in a medical emergency or keeping a small fire from becoming a major fire.  AVL also enables fire commanders to better manage a fire by seeing where all units are located and move them to help save homes as the fire moves and to protect firefighters as winds shift a fire’s path.

AVL equipment already exists in city fire department apparatus, but most rural areas of the county lack this equipment due to having lower tax revenues caused by relatively low population in the area.

“The addition of AVL to our rural fire department vehicles will allow us to track our vehicles in real time, dispatch them to emergencies more effectively, and get help to people who need help much faster,” said Tony Mecham Cal Fire Unit  & San Diego County Fire  Chief. 

“Wildfires are more frequent and continue to escalate in severity in San Diego County,” said Joan Jones, Fire Foundation Executive Director.  “The Fire Foundation is very pleased to partner with the County of San Diego, the San Diego County Fire Authority, Cal Fire and SDG&E to provide this crucial equipment that will reduce response times to fires, medical / rescue calls and other emergencies.” 

This is the second substantial grant SDG&E has provided to purchase AVL equipment for San Diego County over the past year.  This grant brings SDG&E’s support of this program to $376,000.   “Over the years, SDG&E has been proud to partner with San Diego County, cities, the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation, and other non-profits across San Diego County to invest in our ability as a community to meet the challenges of wildfires and natural disasters,” said Steve Davis, President and Chief Operating Officer of SDG&E.  “Today, we take another step forward at improving public safety by helping to enable rural fire department vehicles with modern GPS technology.”

AVL equipment will be provided to 23 fire stations serving the communities of De Luz, Harbison Canyon, Potrero, Descanso, Jamul, Lake Morena, Jacumba, Pine Valley, Campo, Boulevard, Mount Laguna, Warner Springs, Julian, Cuyamaca, Ranchita, Sunshine Summit, Rincon, Palomar Mountain, Ramona, Intermountain, Ocotillo Wells, Shelter Valley, and Lakeside.

The San Diego Regional Fire Foundation was formed in 1989 to improve the system of fire and emergency services in San Diego County.  It has provided $5 million for first responder equipment and training; works to increase public awareness; and facilitates cooperation between cities, fire departments, county agencies, corporations, and other foundations on public safety issues. 

From left:  Group standing in front of water tender equipped with AVL Frank Urtasun, regional  vice president of external relations for SDG&E,  Supervisor Ron Roberts,  Jack Thorpe, president, Worldwide Incident Command Services Corporation, Joan Jones, executive director of the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation, Tony Mecham, Cal Fire Unit and San Diego County Chief



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