CAVE CREEK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Chris Khan and Sharon Edwards remember just how close a brush fire came to their Cave Creek neighborhood last year, creating quite a scare in their community. "We all have sprinkler systems inside, but is it enough to save the house?" asked Khan. "If we get multiple structures engulfed in flames, how many fire trucks can get here to save that number of houses?"
Two major brush fires in the Cave Creek area in May 2020 were a wake-up call to homeowners and town leaders to do something to better protect their community. And that's just what they did. The Town Council recently voted to create its own fire department, allocating more than $8 million to handle its own emergencies.
Scottsdale Deputy Fire Chief Jim Ford was brought in to help with the transition. For years, Rural Metro has provided service in the area through contracts with home and business owners.
Ford said that by having Cave Creek take over, it will allow them to take part in the Regional Automatic Aid System, which means, if their crew is busy, other agencies from other cities will respond, as needed.
"Having that central dispatch will help reduce response times, especially on secondary calls, and will help appropriate resources," said Ford. "If it's not the right unit, they'll bring in the next closest unit. It doesn't matter where it is coming from. It doesn't matter what jurisdictional line."
The Town of Cave Creek has already purchased the fire station along Cave Creek Road that Rural Metro was using. The plan is to buy a new fire truck and equipment to be used by 15 full-time emergency medical services and fire personnel working in the station 24/7.
"Now, if our new fire station equipment or department is busy somewhere else, we know that we are going to get help from Scottsdale, Daisy Mountain and Phoenix," said Khan. "That's a lot more comforting."
Ford said the town council approved the budget that will pay for the new fire department through the first year, but resources will be needed to maintain operations. Discussions are underway to determine the right revenue stream to support the fire department. A new property tax is one idea, as is a possible raise in the local sales tax, said Ford.