BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                        
                       SENATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE
                            Senator Dave Cox, Chair


          BILL NO:  SB 902                     HEARING:  4/7/10
          AUTHOR:  Ashburn                     FISCAL:  No
          VERSION:  3/11/10                    CONSULTANT:   
          Weinberger
          
                      COUNTY REGULATION OF FIRE COMPANIES

                           Background and Existing Law  

          In the beginning there were fire companies.  Before the  
          arrival of fire protection districts, which are public  
          agencies, residents of cities and unincorporated towns  
          organized unpaid fire companies.  Volunteer fire companies  
          in unincorporated areas organize by annually filing a  
          certificate, containing specified information, with the  
          county's Fire and Rescue Operational Area Coordinator, or  
          with another county agency as designated by ordinance.  A  
          county board of supervisors may require an updated or  
          second filing each year.

          Boards of supervisors in counties with populations above  
          1,000,000 can, by ordinance, regulate the formation,  
          continued existence, and ongoing operation of fire  
          companies in unincorporated areas (SB 1993, Ayala, 1984).   
          Currently, the counties of Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange,  
          Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, Alameda,  
          Sacramento, and Contra Costa have populations of more than  
          1,000,000.  Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Bernardino  
          counties have adopted these ordinances.

          A court recently held Kern County liable for a Worker's  
          Compensation claim by a member of a volunteer fire company  
          which had registered with the County.  Kern County  
          officials say that if they're liable for claims, then they  
          want to regulate volunteer fire companies' risk management  
          practices and their role in the County's emergency plans.


                                   Proposed Law  

          Senate Bill 902 reduces, from 1,000,000 to 400,000, the  
          population threshold that a county must meet to be able to  
          regulate the formation, continued existence, and ongoing  
          operations of fire companies. 




          SB 902 -- 3/11/10 -- Page 2





                                     Comments  

           Power and responsibility  .  By authorizing counties with  
          populations of at least 400,000 to regulate volunteer fire  
          companies, Senate Bill 902 gives this regulatory power to  
          12 additional counties:  Fresno, Ventura, San Francisco,  
          Kern, San Mateo, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Sonoma, Tulare,  
          Santa Barbara, Monterey, and Solano.  It's only fair that  
          if counties are liable for volunteer fire companies'  
          actions, they should have a say in their operations.

           
                        Support and Opposition  (4/1/10)

           Support  :  Counties of Kern and Sonoma.

           Opposition  :  Unknown.