Solana Beach: Fire-management services raising the bar

The Cooperative Fire Management Service (CFMS) agreement is a plan that allows the consolidation of fire services, making for faster response times and lower operating costs.

By Marlena Chavira-Medford
Staff Writer

It’s not often city officials find a way to save tax dollars while improving services for their residents — especially if it involves navigating uncharted territory. However, the Fire Department Shared Management Services between Solana Beach, Del Mar, Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District is seemingly the exception to the norm.

After just one year, the program has already saved more than $1 million in tax dollars cumulatively across the four communities it serves: Solana Beach has saved $124,200; Del Mar has saved $226,000; Encinitas has saved $229,000; and the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District has saved $432,832. And thanks to the command realignment it brought about, battalion chiefs are now just minutes away instead of having to be paged in from places as far away as Vista. That’s important because though firefighters serve as frontline responders, a battalion chief acts as the logistical command center during an emergency.
“A battalion chief can stand back and assess the situation and be that extra safety watch out, it’s a very important role,” explained Solana Beach City Manager David Ott, who helped design and launch the program.

Serving as fire chief in Del Mar and Solana Beach from 2003 to 2006, Ott gained a deep insight to fire services and soon realized it made sense for smaller communities like these to join forces. That lack of a unified firefighting service within the county became especially apparent in the wake of the devastating 2003 Cedar wildfires, he said. It was around that time he started exploring the possibility of establishing a joint-effort program, something that had never been done locally. Finally getting Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar and Solana Beach all on one page was no small feat.
“We were working with four local governments, and each had its own different policies and training procedures,” Ott said. “Condensing all of those was a challenge. I think the initial tendency was to get everything perfect. We eventually just realized that we were never going to get it perfect, so we agreed to resolve the issues as they came up.”

And though the program’s first year has “gone better than most thought it would,” there have been a few tweaks along the way. The program has gone through two realignments, further consolidating the positions and duties shared by the four communities. Ott said the program will likely continue to evolve as needed in time and, currently, an ad hoc committee is exploring some governing options, like a joint-powers-authority.
“Overall, the success of this program has been a pleasant surprise,” he said.

The program has done so well, in fact, that some communities in East County are looking to this program as a blueprint of sorts. The program’s model is especially relevant now in the midst of a down economy and budget cuts, which is forcing firefighters to learn how to do more with less — a model that could potentially work with other city services. The program, Ott added, worked because “everyone bought into the idea that this was a good thing.”
“This program has allowed us to provide a higher level of service for a cheaper cost,” he said. “It’s been a positive, rewarding program and we’re looking forward the program’s continued success.”

Related posts:

  1. Cities enter joint-fire management services agreement
  2. Changes to fire services plan should save tax dollars
  3. Officials sign joint fire management agreement
  4. Solana Beach Code enforcement services relocated
  5. Del Mar to contract with Rancho Santa Fe district

Short URL:

Posted by Lorine Wright on Dec 27, 2010. Filed under Featured Story, News, Solana Beach. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6



  • La Jolla Library welcomes new chief Shaun Briley
    For La Jolla Riford Library’s new head librarian, Shaun Briley, books have been a part of his life and career, in some form or another, every step of the way. […]
  • Tangerine trees, marmalade skies for Beatles-inspired Patrons of the Prado gala in Balboa Park, San Diego
    “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was the theme of the Patrons of the Prado gala on July 12, 2014 in Balboa Park, San Diego. Beatles-inspired music came from Wayne Foster Entertainment. Sandy Redman and Jeanne Jones served as event chairs. 2014’s beneficiaries are the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego Museum of Art and The Old Globe Theatre. […]
  • La Jolla’s Best Bets for events July 31- Aug. 7
    Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) offers a crash course in starting a photography collection 6 p.m. Thursday Aug. 7. at the Ligne Roset Showroom, 7726 Girard Ave. MOPA assistant curator Chantel Paul and director of jdc Fine Art Jennifer DeCarlo will share professional insights. […]




  • It’s no stretch for Rancho Santa Fe yoga instructor to ‘give back’
    As one of North County’s most prolific yoga instructors, Stacy McCarthy doesn’t just teach yoga, she lives the yoga lifestyle. Selfless service, or seva in Sanskrit, is an important concept of yoga — one that the Rancho Santa Fe resident practices daily. “When we give and we give from the heart, there’s nothing more gratifying than that,” McCarthy said. […]
  • Rancho Santa Fe resident’s Gen 7 wines earn top honors
    Rancho Santa Fe resident Tim Bacino’s Gen 7 Wines is on a hot streak, his varietals winning several awards this summer in California wine competitions. […]
  • Torrey Pines High School baseball alum Taylor Murphy excelling in pro ball
    It was during a breakout senior year at Torrey Pines High that Taylor Murphy first popped up on the radar of professional scouts. Shortly after graduation, Murphy was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the June 2011 amateur draft. He declined, honoring a commitment to the University of the Pacific. Three years later, Murphy got another sho […]