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Carlsbad opts against joining fire services agreement

Firefighters prep a fire engine at Fire Station No. 1 in downtown Encinitas. The city of Carlsbad is not interested in becoming part of a shared fire services agreement.
(Jared Whitlock)

The city of Carlsbad recently declined, at least for now, to join Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar in a shared fire services agreement.

Encinitas City Manager Karen Brust relayed this news on Jan. 13 to the Encinitas City Council, reading an email from Interim Carlsbad City Manager Kathy Dodson that was sent just an hour before the council meeting began.

Dodson’s email states Carlsbad officials analyzed a memorandum of understanding governing the fire cooperative and they “don’t feel that joining it is in our best interests at this time.”

“We would be willing to consider some type of collaborative structure in the future,” Dodson wrote.

Dodson, who did not elaborate in the email on why Carlsbad is rejecting the invitation, declined an interview request for this article.

The cities in 2009 entered into the agreement to eliminate personnel duplications. Rancho Santa Fe was originally part of the collective, but pulled out in 2013. That was in part because the coast cities moved forward with one fire chief heading the areas to further cooperation, while Rancho Santa Fe wanted to maintain its own fire chief.

In December, the Encinitas council directed Brust to gauge Carlsbad’s interest in joining the agreement, and Carlsbad officials agreed to consider the proposal.

The cities are currently looking for a fire chief to replace Mike Daigle, who recently retired. They agreed to hold off on the search until Carlsbad weighed in on the proposal.

At Encinitas Councilman Mark Muir’s request on Jan. 13, a board that oversees the fire services cooperative will reach out to other North County cities to see if they’re interested in becoming part of the pact. Muir said the agreement has saved quite a bit of money thus far.

“I wouldn’t want to lose an opportunity,” Muir said.


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