Fire protection expiring for NW Tucson neighborhood

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Imagine a fire breaks out in your home and there's no one to call for help.

It's a problem about 600 residents on the Northwest side will face, starting Friday at midnight, when their fire protection runs out.

But it's a problem many neighbors say they don't plan to solve.

Soon, northwest side resident Frank Cassa won't have any fire protection.

After Rural Metro dropped coverage to his neighborhood in June, Mountain Vista fire took over.

But now Mountain Vista is dropping its coverage.  And Frank refuses to annex into the Northwest Fire District.

"I think most of my neighbors are with me," said Cassa.

Out of the 600 residents in the Camino de Manana and Teal Blue Trail areas, only about a quarter have signed a petition to annex.

"It's not really a lot of money, it's a lot of money now," said Cassa.

If a home's worth $200,000, residents would pay another $500 a year in taxes to sign with Northwest Fire.

Frank says he'd pay an additional $1,000 a year in taxes.

It's a cost he and his neighbors aren't used to paying.

In the past they could either buy a subscription from Rural Metro, or go without protection.

"Those folks are having a difficult time coming up with the money or even understanding that tax based fire protection is a reality," said Capt. Jeff Piechura from the Northwest Fire District.

Northwest Fire Chief Jeff Piechura says its a gamble. Not just for fire protection, but also medical care.

"When the time comes, they're gonna wait for an ambulance and they don't know where the ambulance is coming from," said Capt. Piechura.

But it's going to take a lot to convince people like Frank who can't remember the last time he saw a fire in his neighborhood.

He's willing to take the risk.

Along with his neighbors in the Camino de Manana area will have until December 17 to sign a petition to annex.

For neighbors in the Teal Blue Trail area, they have until October 27.

If the petitions fail to get more than 50% of the signatures, then northwest fire will work on a case by case basis with residents who wish to annex.