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Sonoma Co. to consolidate fire agencies

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The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a fire deployment plan Tuesday that proposes consolidating the 39 fire agencies in the unincorporated area and asking voters to approve a half-cent sales tax in 2019 that would raise $41.8 million annually for their operation.

The plan would add more than 180 full-time staff to fire agencies throughout the county at a cost of $25 million annually.

In addition to the increased full-time staffing, administrative support, services and supplies, station improvements and apparatus replacement costs would raise the annual cost to an estimated $42.5 million annually.

The plan calls for increasing the number of staffed stations by 15, or 38 percent, and adding 10 new stations and funding maintenance and improvements to existing stations.

Board members and fire chiefs who spoke at the meeting insisted consolidation of fire agencies in the county is essential and long overdue.

The board approved the plan and a proposal to form a Sonoma County Fire Chiefs Association to provide input to an ad hoc committee in implementing the plan.

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