SPFD Chief Rick Araiza named League of California Cities Fire Chiefs Association President
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: February 06, 2013
Fire Chief Rick Araiza
Rick Araiza wears many hats - from his Fire Chief helmet to director of Building and Safety hardhat to whatever might be on the head of a policy wonk or the president of a statewide fire chiefs organization. Araiza represented Santa Paula during the January League of California Cities’ Policy Committee Meetings held in Sacramento, the first held this year.
Araiza, who serves on the Employee Relations committee, integral to the League’s policy-making process, said the first meeting was “to go over new rules and regulations,” including those affecting workers compensation, pension reform and other areas. The committee also reviews actions or bills that impact employee relations, and decides whether or not to endorse, oppose, or endorse with modifications.
Araiza has served on League Community Services committees over the last three years, and currently serves as president of the League Fire Chiefs Association. The League Fire Chiefs Association consists of fire chiefs from 469 League member cities within California, which has a total of 482 incorporated cities.
Araiza, now in his fourth year on the board, noted that while serving on Community Services committees, “I guess because I was a fire chief” he was looked to for guidance on “the big issue - novelty lighters they sell at liquor stores” that resemble toys. Such lighters fascinate children, and nationwide have been found to be the cause of many fires including those that involve tragic fatalities.
Araiza gave a presentation on the lighters using a real life example of a fire that occurred on Santa Paula’s Cameron Street, caused by a child playing with just such a novelty lighter. Due to Araiza’s presentation the League took action, and now a state law to ban the sales of such novelty lighters is being considered.
About 20 percent of League member cities have fire chiefs who are active in the association that Araiza leads, a group that tackles diverse issues. “We present policy and discuss problems such as ambulance transport,” including state and federal reimbursements for city transport of the indigent, a “hot issue” for many cities and counties, although the City of Santa Paula does not provide medical transport.
Reports must be written, papers presented and problems tackled as they arise and Araiza presides over an association monthly meeting. The meeting is held via conference call, where the subjects can range from legislation that affects fire departments to roundtable discussions on such subjects as lawsuits filed against the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) for dispatch and response time issues.
The LAFD, noted Araiza, has become more active in the League’s Fire Chiefs Association: “They now realize” they have to be more involved. “Even if they’re the biggest they see we all need all to work together,” and that on different levels all fire departments share common problems and challenges.
Araiza runs the meetings from Santa Paula. The monthly conference call normally runs about an hour and involves up to 60 fire chiefs.
“We get updates on training issues, fire incidents, mutual aid reimbursements, things that went right or went wrong, any issue of specific firefights. We talk about new policies, how to improve things, talk about strike teams... it really keeps us up to date on the state level,” especially, said Araiza, as the State Fire Marshal or their chief aide is “also on the line.”
Established in 1898, the League of California Cities is a nonprofit statewide association that advocates for cities with the state and federal governments and provides education and training services to elected and appointed city officials.