ENCINITAS — When residents in Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar wake up in the morning, their fire departments will still be named after the cities in which they reside.
However, that will change in the next few months, the Encinitas fire chief said.
Six years after the cities entered into a cooperative agreement and two years after discussions of a moniker change began, fire officials are nearing a decision on a new name that they will then circulate to residents, city officials and regional fire officials for their blessing, said Mike Daigle, Encinitas fire and marine safety chief.
“We are still several months away from anything happening,” Daigle said. “A long story short, there are a lot of steps we still have to go through, which is why we haven’t put anything out there.
“It is nothing you can do overnight, you just can’t change your name,” he said.
The Coast News had received several calls over the past few days from concerned residents who believed a change was imminent and possibly happening as early as July 1.
Daigle said the July 1 date was set as a deadline for fire officials to settle on a name that it could kickstart conversations with the public and officials from the various cities, but there are still multiple suggestions that are under consideration.
Some of the names being considered, Daigle said, are Southern California Fire, San Diego Coastal Fire, and North Shore Fire, among others. The latter name, Daigle said, appears to be a long shot because of the other North Shore in Hawaii.
Once officials settle on a name, Daigle said, the outreach efforts will begin. He expects to speak to the Encinitas City Council after the council members return from their summer recess, sometime in September.
Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe originally entered into a cooperative agreement in 2009, but Rancho Santa Fe has since opted out of the agreement. The three cities have been exploring a unified moniker similar to the cities of El Cajon, Lemon Grove and La Mesa, which combined to form the Heartland Fire Department.
Daigle said he understands that the public outreach will be important as some residents might not want to give up their department’s names, which are intertwined with their individual department identities.
“Some don’t want it to change, and that is understandable,” said Daigle, who added part of the ongoing discussion is finding a way to maintain each individual city’s names on rocker patches or in some other form.