From treed cats to injured people, Quincy Fire responds
Measure A will help the volunteers continue their work
In the space of 15 minutes, three calls came into the Quincy Fire Department — a fire pit complaint, a request for medical aid and a cat up a tree — yes, fire departments really do get calls about treed cats.
Those calls last Monday afternoon are just a sample of what Chief Robbie Cassou and the volunteer firefighters handle on a daily basis beyond responding to fires.
This week the ballots for Measure A will arrive in local mailboxes. They must be returned by June 4.
Measure A calls for a $96 annual parcel tax assessment, which will appear on property tax bills for five years for those who live in the Quincy Fire Protection District.
This measure is similar to one approved by 87 percent of the voters in 2005, but that sunset in 2011, forcing the fire district to dip into its reserves.
The fire department receives approximately $241,000 annually in property tax, but needs $338,000 to operate each year.
Measure A would bring in approximately $250,000 annually, enough to cover operating costs and pay for equipment and infrastructure.
A 14-member citizens committee formed in support of Measure A and has spent the last several months working to see it passed.
Jesse Segura, the Feather River College rodeo coordinator, chairs the committee. He took the position because of his own experience with the fire department and the overall role that its volunteer firefighters play in the community.
When the equestrian team calls 911, which happened six times in 2011, the hospital and the fire department respond.
“It’s nice to have the extra response in case the ambulance is out,” Segura said. “We are lucky at the college to have them.”
But his appreciation extends beyond the rodeo grounds. As a property owner he knows the value of having fire protection and what it would mean to his homeowner’s insurance if it didn’t exist.
“If the ISO (Insurance Services Organization) rating goes down, you could pay more homeowner’s insurance each year than you would for the fee,” he said.
Another committee member, Andy Ryback, highlights the fact that 40 volunteers routinely miss nights and weekends with their families to respond to emergencies and attend training meetings.
Passing Measure A supports their efforts by providing the necessary equipment and gear to protect the public and themselves.
A portion of the annual operating costs goes to three paid staff members: Chief Robbie Cassou, administrative secretary Yvonne Bush and mechanic/facilities manager Charlie Read.
Those paid positions allow the fire department to meet stringent state and federal requirements.
It also means that when a member of the public needs help, there is someone at the other end of the line — as there was last Monday.
Cassou fielded a call from a neighbor calling to complain about the activities of another neighbor, which involved habitual late night partying around a fire pit. The caller wanted it stopped.
Cassou explained that he had no legal jurisdiction to intervene. No-burn days apply to debris and yard waste burning, but cooking and warming fires are legal activities.
However, if the caller provided names, he said he would visit the neighbor and discuss the issue. The caller declined to supply the information.
After further discussion Cassou ascertained that it wasn’t the fire as much as the noise that was the problem, and he suggested that she call the sheriff. Apparently she had already tried that option.
Cat up a tree
Caller No. 2 phoned to report a cat up a tree in Greenhorn. Apparently it had spent five days about 45 feet above the ground. It wasn’t the caller’s cat, but it was still upsetting.
Cassou told the caller to put some cat food at the base of the tree and it would come down.
When the caller hung up to heed the advice, Cassou said that extricating cats from trees was actually dangerous work for firefighters. “The cats are pissed,” Cassou said. “You have to wear all your gear.”
The department’s new bucket truck has made rescue attempts easier. He explained that before the bucket truck, the firefighters were limited by the ladder’s height. “We’d get up there and the cat would climb higher,” Cassou said.
Lest the public think it’s frivolous to embark on cat rescues, he said it’s actually good training for the firefighters to practice. To date there have been three successful rescues and each is celebrated with a kitty sticker on the bucket.
As Cassou wrapped up the cat discussion, another call came in for medical aid — a laceration on Valley View Drive.
Cassou and volunteer firefighter Kevin Errecart responded in the large emergency rescue truck with lights and siren.
When they arrived, Quincy fire first responders John Gay and Frank Carey were already on scene along with a Plumas District Hospital ambulance.
As the paramedics attended to the patient, Cassou repositioned the ambulance for a speedy return to the hospital.
Back at the station, the Greenhorn cat caller reported that when he placed the cat food under the tree a dog came and ate it. Now the dog was sitting under the tree.
Will there be another kitty sticker added to the Quincy Fire Department truck’s bucket?