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Fire District news

By Jay Gamel

All fire personnel around the county have been offered COVID-19 vaccinations and many have taken the shots; however, some fire personnel are not participating in the program for a variety of unspecified reasons. An informal poll of a dozen county fire districts, including Kenwood and Valley of the Moon, show participation ranging from 100 percent to 10 percent.

According to Chief Daren Bellach at Kenwood Fire Protection District (KFPD), only four of Kenwood’s 27 firefighters opted to take the vaccine. Sonoma Valley Fire District (SVFD) participation was about 70 percent, according to Chief Steve Akre, though he did not have numbers readily available. The chiefs could only speculate on why people chose not to take the vaccine now, but they were clear that the vaccinations are not mandatory. Both of them elected to take the firstround shots. A second shot is required for the current vaccines to be effective.

Mayacamas fire personnel were vaccinated on Dec. 30 as members of the Sonoma Valley Fire District, according to Mayacamas Olds, who chairs the non-profit Mayacamas Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., organized to support this small unit that serves some of the most isolated mountain-dwellers on the eastern slopes of the Sonoma Valley.

Vaccinations are a condition of service for Sonoma County health workers, but not fire personnel.

“I will certainly take the shot when I’m offered it,” outgoing KFPD Board Chair Daymon Doss said. At 75, he is not in the first tier of eligible citizens. He was surprised at how few Kenwood firefighters opted to particpate in the vaccination program.

“Perhaps we need a better program of education and learning about the vaccines,” he suggested.

January is typically a fairly slow month for fire departments in Sonoma Valley, and 2021 is no exception.

Both the Kenwood Fire Protection District and Valley of the Moon Fire Districts hold their board meetings on the second Tuesday of the month, starting off this year with financial and personnel discussions.

Since these meetings happened on the day the Kenwood Press was being prepped for the printer, we have just a glimpse of what is expected to happen.

KFPD Director Jim Kempers has been sidelined by a fall and illness and was not expected to participate in the scheduled Jan. 12 afternoon meeting. Director August Moretti was scheduled to replace Doss as chairman for the next year.

The Kenwood Board elected not to make public the results of an employee survey taken in December that Doss described as “positive,” with over 95 percent of the firefighters participating. Issues were identified that will be addressed, he said.

Mayacamas VFD, Inc. is still looking for one more person to round out their complement of board members. Please contact Olds at [email protected] if you would like to know more.

Chief Akre was pleased to note that 11 new SVFD volunteers are expected to be signed up in February.