City News

City Council to Pursue Merging Fire Services with Gold Ridge Fire Protection District

April 17, 2024, City News

After years of discussion and public input, the City Council has decided to pursue merging fire services with the Gold Ridge Fire Protection District. This is largely because our response to calls for service is inadequate, either in the length of time to respond to calls, the number of qualified staff responding, or both. The key to improving response is to increase staff. Providing appropriate fire apparatus (trucks and engines) and a much-improved fire station are also essential. Even with Measure H adding $1.1 million/year to fire services in Sebastopol, combining those funds with current City funding – which is at risk given the City’s financial challenges – the level of funding is insufficient to provide an acceptable level of services. And Measure H could be over-turned or at least subject to protracted litigation as the California Business Roundtable has placed a voter initiative on the November ballot that raises this possibility.

Consolidation would bring an additional $1.1 million in annual funding through a parcel tax that currently runs at $265/year for a typical single family home, along with opportunities for economies of scale, that would provide sufficient funding for quality fire services. In addition to support from the Ad Hoc Committee, consolidation is also supported by the current and two prior Interim Fire Chiefs and the City Manager. With consolidation clearly needed, we have the question of which fire agency to merge with. After extensive research and analysis, we conclude that merging with the Gold Ridge Fire District is the best option. It provides economies of scale, quality and depth of leadership, strategic thinking, governance advantages, and the benefits of experience in mergers compared to the Graton Fire District. As with all City business, the public is welcome to share their thoughts on this topic. Two ways you can do this are e-mailing the City Council (, or attending City Council meetings in person or via Zoom.