Even with a hint of smoke in the air from surrounding wildfires, residents of Golden Hills and the local area can breathe a little easier knowing Fire Station #13 will be in service in the coming year.
Earlier slated for closure because of severe county budget cuts, the station got a reprieve after members of the Golden Hills Community Services District board, local residents, Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall and County Supervisor Zack Scrivner all voiced concerns.
"Chief Brian Marshall and I are committed to ensuring that Station #13 in Golden Hills remains open, not just for fire season, but through the entire year," Scrivner said. "My colleagues on the Board of Supervisors are supportive of this commitment as well, having voted unanimously to budget sufficient funds for this purpose, specifically, as part of our final budget adoption on August 23."
The station, located on Reeves Street and adjacent to the Golden Hills CSD offices, originally opened in July 2014, and only was to be used during the summer fire season.
However, it soon became a full service fire station, staffed 24 hours a day. It also provides EMS services and hazardous materials services.
Many had worried about the impact of a closure. The station serves a population of some 8,700 people just in Golden Hills, as well as supports surrounding areas. It is second only to the Kern County fire station in the City of Tehachapi, which covers about 8,815 people. There also are stations in Stallion Springs (about 2,000 residents) and Bear Valley Springs (5,000 residents).
Larry Barrett, president of the Golden Hills CSD, said the station is important to the community.
"Having a fire station in your neighborhood means firefighters are closer to you and your family in your time of need," he said. "We at the Golden Hills CSD are extremely thankful to Supervisor Zack Scrivner, to Fire Chief Brian Marshall and to our many Golden Hills residents for their email support in justifying the critical importance of keeping Station #13 open."
A fire station nearby can help lower insurance rates, as well as shorten response times, Barrett said.
"Safety for all our families and our pets is important," the board president said. "We realize when fire breaks out or a medical emergency occurs, time is of the essence."
GHCSD Director Marilyn White added, "I'm relieved that the residents of Golden Hills and all of Tehachapi will have services provided by Station #13."