Opinion

Here’s what Measure H will do for Los Banos

Los Banos City Fire Chief Mason Hurley, center, talks to a first-responder to a fire in June.
Los Banos City Fire Chief Mason Hurley, center, talks to a first-responder to a fire in June. Los Banos Enterprise

The primary mission of the Los Banos Fire Department is to protect life and property for the citizens of the city. This mission is accomplished through a wide range of programs, which include protection, prevention, planning, education, inspections, code enforcement and finally fire suppression and training.

The Los Banos Fire Department provides first responders and EMTs for the delivery of emergency medical services, and technical rescue operations.

The department maintains two fire stations within the city limits staffed with career firefighters and augmented by very dedicated and professional volunteer firefighters. Our police and fire departments serve one of the fastest growing areas in California. We’ve been down nine police officers, firefighters and 9-1-1 dispatchers since the recession.

In 2009, the Los Banos Fire Department received 1,887 calls for service and by early 2018 we already received 2,200 calls, an increase of 117 percent and still counting. We must keep pace with the increased call volumes and the thousands of new residents moving into our neighborhoods using nationally recognized standards and fiscally responsible accountability.

In July, the Los Banos City Council placed Measure H – a local half-cent sales tax measure – on the Nov. 6 ballot. If enacted, Measure H can provide funds to maintain Los Banos’s public safety and other city services.

Many people don’t know that 64 percent of the nearly 3,000 emergency calls received by the Los Banos Fire Department are for medical emergencies, ranging from assisting those with general illnesses to patients in full cardiac arrest. The Los Banos Fire Department is 100 percent dedicated to providing the very best service to every member of our community no matter the need or emergency situation.

Keeping our fire stations open and maintaining enough 9-1-1 emergency response personnel available to be dispatched quickly is a priority and ensures that our team can reach anyone who needs help when they need it.

Police Chief Gary Brizzee and I have recommended the city hire additional firefighters, police officers and dispatchers. Measure H provides funds to protect and maintain 9-1-1 response times for police officers and firefighters.

Besides providing funding for public safety, Measure H would also provide funds for other essential city services such as recreational activities for seniors, safe alternative programs for youth and maintaining the city’s long-term fiscal sustainability.

Though not required, the measure would have an independent citizens oversight committee and annual public spending reports to ensure funds are spent properly. By law, all funding would be spent locally and cannot be taken by the state.

All Los Banos residents are encouraged to participate in the Los Banos municipal election on Nov. 6. For more information on Measure H and the Los Banos Fire Department, visit www.losbanos.org.

Mason Hurley is fire chief of Los Banos

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