“2021 is a big year for us,” said Chris Wilkes, chief of the Little Lake Fire Protection District (LLF), to the board members during the January 12 meeting. He explained that various projects that the department has been working on are finally coming together, including the new fire station, a new fire truck, the ISO audit, the cannabis excise share, and others.
Now regarding the new fire station, Wilkes said the building is slowly taking shape and looking “pretty impressive”. In the next three weeks, depending on the weather, metal roofs should be installed, insulation installed, interior walls framed and aluminum windows installed. Wilkes said the project was “pretty quick,” but not without a few changes.
The exterior of the new fire station in Little Lake is taking shape. (Photo by Aura Whittaker)
An important addition he mentioned is a new electronic sigh board that will face E. Commercial Street and will notify the public of important notices like Brenntag information and emergency evacuations. The original plan was to continue posting paper notices on a bulletin board outside the main entrance, but Wilkes said they recognized the many benefits of an electronic sign and therefore added it to the construction project.
LLF is also confident about the new fire truck they have designed and plans to buy it at a discount on the Cal Fire State Treaty. Wilkes said that while the engine will be similar to the current Cal Fire engines, LLF has made some changes to give the rig hybrid capabilities for both urban and wilderness environments and to maintain the department’s ISO rating.
Currently, LLF’s ISO number is a “3”, which Wilkes says is “excellent”. He added that people are often surprised that such a small department has such a good rating, but Wilkes said the crew work really hard to keep it low (lower is better). Additionally, he said the city of Willits is upgrading the city’s water pipes, which is helping to keep the rating low, as is the quality of the fire extinguishers.
Wilkes said a $ 25,000 donation from LEEF Organics enabled LLF to acquire all of the new Wildland turnouts for the crew members and to purchase a new automated external defibrillator (AED) with a surprise donation of $ 10,000 from MedStar Ambulance Services.
Another project that has finally come together is developing a schedule for LLF to collect their share of the city’s cannabis excise tax. Wilkes said LLF will now receive funding on a regular basis – twice a year in August and February. Also in February, Wilkes confirmed that LLF has been placed on the Mendocino County Board of Directors agenda to address the issue of impact charges.
The LLF Board of Directors will continue in 2021 with the same members including Tony Madrigal (President), Skip Lucier (Vice President), Nancy Stipe, Arnold Mello and Tom Herman.