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SDGE and the Fire Foundation to the Rescue!

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San Diego Regional Fire Foundation and SDGE provide a grant to the La Jolla Indian Fire Department for Equipment

La Jolla Reservation Fire Department receives a grant from SDGE and the Fire Foundation for essential equipment including fire hose, firefighter protective clothing and breathing apparatus. Left to right: Fire Foundation CEO Joan Jones, La Jolla Fire Department Engineer Ernest Sanisya, La Jolla Fire Department Chief Wesley Ruise, SDGE Media Relations Manager Stephanie Donovan.

The La Jolla Band of Indians Fire Department (La Jolla) submitted a grant request to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to acquire $534,000 of fire and medical/rescue equipment to enhance traffic, fire and first responder safety along Highway 76 which runs through their reservation.  Because this same equipment will improve fire service and safety to the entire region, DOT approved about half of the grant and required the other half to have $51,000 in matching funds.

However, by the time the approved grant went from DOT to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the California State Transportation Agency to La Jolla it was August of this year. The DOT grant required the matching funds by September 30, 2015. Thus with only six weeks to secure those funds, La Jolla contacted the Fire Foundation. The Foundation contacted SDGE who quickly agreed to provide the matching funds through the Fire Foundation.

“The La Jolla Band of Indians’ fire agency has a history of providing quality service for the reservation and the surrounding communities on a day-to-day basis as well as during disasters”, said Dave Geier, Vice President of Electric System Transmission and System Engineering. “We are pleased to help them acquire a grant of this magnitude that will have an immediate positive impact on the region now and in the future.”

The grant will enable La Jolla to acquire a smaller quick attack fire and rescue vehicle, firefighter protective clothing, fire hose, breathing apparatus, rescue ropes, foam, radios for communications and fire nozzles. DOT Secretary Foxx said, “By improving the safety for drivers and their passengers on tribal lands, these important funds will enhance the quality of life for their community.”

La Jolla Indians need a fire station

The Fire Foundation worked with the La Jolla tribal fire department in 2008 after the devastating Poomacha Fire to acquire a full-sized structure fire engine through the McCormick Foundation in Chicago. The next major challenge for La Jolla and the Fire Foundation is to find adequate funding to build a fire station on the reservation. Currently the fire engines are protected under a tent and all other equipment is stored in trailers.  This fire station is critical because the La Jolla reservation is located along Highway 76 in San Diego’s East County, south of Palomar Mountain, in an area considered to be an extreme fire risk zone.