Assistant Fire Chief Laura Baker retired this week after 26 years of serving our community. I’d like to extend my appreciation and best wishes on behalf of all of our Ward 2 neighbors.
Chief Baker was Tucson’s first woman fire chief. She also worked hard to get other women into the firefighting profession, including starting Camp Fury back in 2009. Camp Fury is a project with the Girl Scouts to introduce girls to firefighting. It is now a nationwide program.
Thank you, and good luck in what ever you do next, Chief.
We have some other news this week from our fire department. They secured two grants that will help them serve our fellow Tucsonans.
The first is the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. This grant provides a total of $5.4 million over a three-year period to help with the payment of firefighter salaries and benefits. This year’s grant is different than that of previous years in that it doesn’t require a local matching fund requirement and doesn’t specify that it go to new positions. The grant means that TFD can use existing money that my colleagues and I appropriated in general fund money on other important programs and initiatives.
The second award is an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) of $1.38 million. This grant was awarded based on Tucson Fire's application to hold a 20-person paramedic training certification class. Keep in mind that most of TFD’s calls are medical emergencies rather than fire. Although all our firefighters are EMTs, having more paramedics available is crucial to serving Tucson. The grant will cover the costs of tuition and related education materials for 20 Tucson firefighters, and it will also cover all associated overtime costs that will be incurred by the department while those 20 firefighters dedicate their full-time effort to becoming certified National Registry paramedics. Their training will start in early 2021, and they will be completed with both their classroom studies and clinical rotations by the end of September 2021, per the conditions of the grant.
Tucson Water is preparing to temporarily convert to groundwater wells to provide water service to customers. The conversion will take place starting Friday, Oct. 2, and is scheduled to continue until Wednesday, Nov. 7. The change in water sources is a result of a scheduled maintenance shutdown of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) system, which is used to deliver renewable Colorado River water supplies to the community. The temporary shutdown of the CAP system will not affect the ability of Tucson Water to deliver water. Tucson Water crews and contractors will also use this time to undertake inspections and conduct repairs to segments of the 96-inch pipeline running along Starr Pass Boulevard and San Marcos Boulevard. To prepare for the transition to groundwater wells, Tucson Water crews have been flushing inactive groundwater wells and some fire hydrants to clear any sediments, such as silt and sand particles, that may have accumulated in pipes over time. Customers are advised to flush their water lines at a spigot closest to their water meter if they detect dirty or milky water. If the problem persists, they are asked to contact Tucson Water’s Water Quality Customer Support Unit at (520) 791-5945 during normal business hours, or call the emergency line at (520) 791-4133 at all other times.
Startup Tucson has been offering support for local entrepreneurs since 2012. They have some programs coming up that you might be interested in, particularly if you are a small business person trying to figure out how to get through the COVID crisis.
Their next round of their 5-week Startup Fundamentals series starts on October 13th. Rates are low due to a grant my colleagues and I approved to support small businesses in Tucson. To find out more, please visit https://www.startuptucson.com/events-1/startup-fundamentals.
The deadline has been moved! You now have until October 5 to complete your 2020 census form. Responses help determine the number of seats each state has in Congress and guide how nearly $700 billion in federal funding is spent in communities each year. It’s estimated up to $3,000 per person, per year is at stake for Arizona. The deadline to complete the form is Sept. 30. Please visit Census2020.gov.