2 New Fire Substations Eyed At Berryessa

Substations needed to enhance protection, build case for lower fire insurance rates.

Napa County Fire Chief Scott Upton talks about fire protection in the Lake Berryessa area on Sept. 24, 2013. credit Keri Brenner
Napa County Fire Chief Scott Upton talks about fire protection in the Lake Berryessa area on Sept. 24, 2013. credit Keri Brenner

Napa County Supervisors will look at adding two fire substations near Lake Berryessa as one way to improve fire protection and possibly lower insurance costs for residents.

Residents in the Lake Berryessa area have seen their fire insurance premiums escalate as insurers attempt to cut risks after numerous high-loss wildfires.

Napa County Fire Chief Scott Upton told supervisors he thinks two small garage-like substations would enhance firefighting response times and also support the case for a lower level of fire insurance rates under ISO, a company that establishes rates for property insurance.

Fire risk for insurance purposes is based on proximity to a fire station and to a water source, such as a hydrant.

Upton also noted that residents in the Berryessa Highlands and surrounding communities have been active with Firewise, an agency that organizes removal of brush and other fire fuels around structures.

Supervisor Keith Caldwell, a former American Canyon Fire Chief, said the county, which installed large water mains in the area, and the residents' Firewise activities have already built the foundation for fire protection.

"I think the residents have made an investment and we need to provide these fire stations," he said. "I think we owe it to the residents to do that."

Upton said a new ISO fire insurance risk rating schedule went into place on July 1. He said Napa County may want to have itself re-rated at some point, perhaps after adding the two substations.

He recommended a garage-like unmanned substation format, similar to what already exists in Rutherford along Silverado Trail. The substations would be  useful for volunteer firefighters to clean up after exposure to hazardous materials, for example, he said.

Supervisors told Upton to go forward on exploration of the costs of the stations and the option for a re-rating with ISO.

Tina Morse September 27, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Just adding substations is not going to lower the premiums drastically. There are several factors that make up the cost of fire premiums and this is just one. There is no guarantee to lower premiums by adding substations. It is still a high risk area surrounded by wild land fire potential. In the case of a wildfire a substation is not going to mitigate that.


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