Change is in the air for San Bernardo County fire stations in the Morongo Basin’s outlying areas. Reporter David Haldane explains…

If you’re a part time firefighter paid to answer calls in Landers, Pioneertown or Rimrock, you’ll soon be out of a job. That’s the word from the county fire department just one day after the board of supervisors voted to keep the Wonder Valley station open for another year.

Battalion Chief Mike Snow said Wednesday that the so-called “paid call” system—under which firefighters with other jobs earn money responding to calls—will be phased out by June 30. Instead, those stations will be served only by full-time firefighters from Yucca Valley bolstered by Fire Corps volunteers providing support and communications in emergencies and disasters.

In related news, Snow reported that the Johnson Valley fire station was taken over earlier this month by a homeowners group to be used for other purposes. And stations on Sierra Avenue in Joshua Tree and Lear Avenue in Twentynine Palms have been used only for storage for years.


  • Blayd

    In other words, from poor fire protection to NO fire protection. I guess expensive dog pound facilities and late model luxury vehicles for county staff are far more important than taxpayers homes and businesses. No wonder my (and the entire area) fire insurance rates sky-rocketed at last renewal. Response time of 20 minutes now turns into an hour. Just in time to wash the remaining slab down.

  • Betty Munson

    Comment on two reports this week.

    Two statements by Battalion Chief Mike Snow were reported in such manner that some listeners unfamiliar with Johnson Valley’s long relationship with the County Fire Department may have been misled.

    June 14
    “The stations in Landers, Pioneertown and Johnson Valley will remain open for now, they will eventually be staffed by volunteers rather than paid firefighters.”

    Fire Station #43 behind the Johnson Valley Community Center was built by members of the Johnson Valley Improvement Association (JVIA). County Fire leased the building for 1.00 a year for various other uses until the end of last month, May 2017.

    However, this station has not had active firefighters since the 90’s, when the volunteer fire department was disbanded.

    June 15
    “Snow reported that the Johnson Valley fire station was taken over earlier this month by a homeowners group to be used for other purposes.”

    The Johnson Valley Improvement Association (JVIA), the owner of the building, and officials of County Fire have always hoped for the reactivation of Fire Station #43. It was with great disappointment JVIA received the news earlier this year from Chief Snow that this was not to be.

    The building can be used for other purposes, now under consideration.

    Betty Munson
    Secretary JVIA

  • jack

    There hasn’t been a fireman at Station 19 in Landers for maybe 5 years or so, so staffing with ” volunteers ” would be an improvement. Don’t equate Volunteer with not getting paid. We have a volunteer military. They get paid!

  • Blayd

    “Fire Corps is an American volunteer program which is designed to connect community members with their local fire/EMS departments to help with non-emergency tasks.”

    As a taxpayer, and a citizen in the Station 19 area I would expect somebody with training, be it volunteer call, or volunteer paid to be able to open the barn door, drive the fire truck to the needed location and be able to lay at least a small line to a fire while the regular paid department is enroute.

    The county has other areas it can underfund if need be. Fire protection should be first, not last in the budget.

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