Soboba Fire starts off new year with a spark

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Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians | Contributed

In its efforts to continually find ways to improve services to the Soboba Indian Reservation and surrounding communities, the Soboba Fire Department has acquired a new state-of-the-art engine. Additionally, through a successful grant application, a new position was able to be added to the Emergency Services operations that are overseen by Fire Chief Glenn Patterson. “We applied for a grant that added the Disaster Services Manager position to bolster the preparedness activities and to have additional staff to help coordinate emergency operations plans and to work with FEMA on after emergency mitigation projects,” he said.

Patterson oversees both the Fire Department and Emergency Services, but the Disaster Services Manager and the Emergency Services Coordinator are not Fire Department employees. Eddy Moore has been assigned to fill the DSM position, which is fully grant-funded for five years. Moore began his fire service career in 1993 as a firefighter for CAL FIRE, promoting through all the ranks to Fire Chief in San Luis Obispo County before retiring in 2023. “My plan is to bolster the current Emergency Management plan in place and keep all disaster, evacuation and shelter plans up to date,” Moore said. “I will be working with the Tribal Executive Officer to establish priorities for future projects.

I will be looking at grant opportunities to enhance capabilities of response and recovery efforts in the event of a disaster.” Moore, who resides in Menifee, said he has experience working with Tribal Fire Services through his working relationships with Tribes in the areas he was responsible for and the collaboration and coordination with their teams during emergency incidents. “Since I started this position in October, I have noticed that the team here at Soboba is well connected and is full of great people,” Moore said. “The previous Emergency Services Coordinator had a really good layout that has set our team up for future success for response, planning and recovery from natural or manmade disasters.”

Soboba Fire has 26 total employees who are staggered among three shifts to ensure it is fully staffed around the clock. A new engine has recently been added to its fleet. “The new engine will replace the current E-1 as our primary apparatus but we will be keeping the old engine as a reserve to use when other apparatus go out of service or need maintenance,” Patterson said. “The old engine will remain equipped at the minimum level and will also be available for surge capacity during periods of high incident activity.”

Eddy Moore is the Disaster Services Manager, a grant-funded position that will ensure that disaster, evacuation and shelter plans are kept up to date.

The Type I Fire Engine made by Pierce Manufacturing is a 2023 Pierce Enforcer that has a 1,500 GPM (gallons per minute) pump and can hold 500 gallons of water. It will carry a full complement of firefighting equipment, Advanced Life Support Paramedic equipment, and Jaws of Life. To keep the momentum going, Soboba Fire received a grant from CAL FIRE for 2024 to assist them in mitigating fire dangers created by weeds and overgrown brush in the springtime.

Patterson said the grant will pay for a Fire Captain and four crew members for three months to perform weed abatement on the Reservation along with new mowing equipment and weed eaters. The Soboba Fire Explorers program for youth, which launched nearly two years ago, is still very active, meeting every Tuesday.

Fire Training Captain Howard Maxcy Jr. oversees the program where the participants go through various drills and exercises while learning why each one is important and when it is used during an actual fire call. Soboba Tribal members are given priority for acceptance into the program, but any Tribal member is eligible. Maxcy said there are many cultural aspects that are important to know when working with a Tribal fire department.

Along with learning to respect everyone and take pride in all the equipment and each other, the Explorers are experiencing important life skills such as teamwork, responsibility, strong communication and problem-solving skills. All the skills they learn can be applied to many different work/life situations. For more information, www.fire.soboba-nsn.gov.

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