Firefighters to keep funding

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Portales City Council members approved a resolution on Tuesday entering into a joint powers agreement for wildland fire suppression between the Portales Fire Department and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

The agreement will allow for the fire department to continue to receive funding from the state for wildland firefighting.

“There was some controversy with previous JPA based on training for volunteers,” Portales Fire Chief John Bridges said.

According to Bridges, his department has made a concerted effort to have all personnel certified to the federal standard of red card certification. He said volunteer departments are facing changes with the JPA that will allow them to be reimbursed for their services but at a lower rate because of lack of certification.

City councilors expressed concern that the volunteer departments needed to be reimbursed for their services.

“These volunteers are out there doing this work for nothing and they are having to purchase equipment and fuel,” Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. said.

Bridges referenced the recent fire that occurred that spread from N.M. 467 to U.S. 70, which it jumped and traveled to Blackwater Farms before being stopped. Without the help of the rural fire departments, the fire damage could have been worse, he said.

“Had we not had all of those resources out there, it would have been a disaster,” Bridges said.

Bridges also informed the City Council that as of Monday, a new fire truck had been ordered for the department from Triple A Fire Pro and is estimated to be completed in about a year, he said.

In other business:

• A 2005-2006 audit was presented by a representative from the office of Sandra Rush, CPA, and accepted by the City Council.

• Officer Kane Wyatt received a Commendation Award for his actions that resulted in saving the life of a victim that was involved in an auto accident in the early morning hours of Nov. 10.