What’s the difference between a fire “district” and a fire “department”?
Generally, a fire department is part of a city or county government, funded through the city’s or county’s general fund, with monies derived from sales, property, and other taxes.
A fire district is a “special” district (defined by California Health & Safety Code 13800), usually independent of any city or county government, funded by a portion of the ad valorem property tax and a special tax assessment on properties within its district.
Fire districts generally provide service to rural and/or unincorporated areas surrounding a city or several cities, although some (like Windsor) provide service within city boundaries as well as to the surrounding unincorporated areas.
What is a “fire authority”?
Typically a fire authority is created when two or more fire service agencies sign a contract, called a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA), that creates one entity that has authority over all of the agencies that are party to the JPA.
Central Fire Authority was formed by a JPA between the Rincon Valley Fire Protection District and the Windsor Fire Protection District in 2011 for the purpose of providing administrative services to both districts. These services include management and administrative support.
Central Fire Authority is not a consolidation of the two fire districts. Each fire district exists separately, with its own revenue stream, employees, budget, equipment, stations, etc.