Bonnie Plakos named chief of TSR Volunteer Fire Department

By Amie Windsor

Independent Coast Observer of Gualala, California

Former Sea Ranch Volunteer Fire Department Captain Bonnie Plakos is now Fire Chief of The Sea Ranch Volunteer Fire Department after Chief Michael Scott retired June 1."Scott was ready to stop responding but he's still on the Board," Plakos said. "We're not losing any knowledge."

Plakos has always been interested in the fire department ever since attending a barbeque in the '80s. A software programmer for Citigroup for 23 years, she admits the walls of the fire station are much different than those of a cubicle. "It's a really good thing," Plakos said. "It's physical and challenging."

She and her husband Paul purchased a lot in The Sea Ranch in 1987, built a decade later and finally moved, permanently from southern California in 2002. She joined the department in 2007, motivated to serve her community.

Plakos notes there are many challenges to being a part of a fire department in a rural and coastal area. "While we do have enough to handle normal things, we're a long way from everything in the event of something big," Plakos said.

Plakos points to finances as another challenge she and her colleagues face.

In fact, The Sea Ranch Fire Department is seeking to form an independent district as early as this year, Plakos said, due to diminished allocation of property taxes to The Sea Ranch and dwindling reserve funds that have been covering for those reduced taxes. "The funds are less than what's needed to support both Cal Fire and the department," Plakos said.

According to The Sea Ranch Volunteer Fire Department website, forming an independent district is "the best long-term solution to the known issues." The district would cover both The Sea Ranch and Annapolis. "We have good models around us, including Coast Life Support District, Timber Cove, South Coast and Redwood Coast," Plakos said. "We're at the end of the road. It's much more difficult for county fire to support us."

Plakos' immediate goal for the department is to maintain or improve membership — a continual challenge — even though she admits the fire station is at a "good place right now with 12 active responders and several additional supporters."

"When I joined in 2007 we were much smaller," Plakos recalled. "There were maybe four or five active responders. In addition, Plakos' aims to maintain the safety of the people in her department and the community. "Providing the safety of others is the chiefs number one job," Plakos said.

Plakos provided some safety tips for the fire season, which is "now upon us. "The most important thing people can do is take responsibility for their property and maintain the defensible place around their homes," Plakos said. "And do the things you already know; don't use power equipment in a meadow on a dry and windy afternoon."

Plakos also mentioned The Sea Ranch Fire Council will be sponsoring a community open house on safety on Saturday, Aug., 8 in the White Barn. More details to follow.

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