I was recently unable to convince a majority of my colleagues on the Great Park Board of Directors (i.e., the Irvine City Council) to provide a safe and secure place for the temporary storage of the irreplaceable collection of fire engines, trucks, and other priceless artifacts of the non-profit California Fire Museum.
I had proposed that an unoccupied and uninhabitable hanger be leased to the California Fire Museum for $1.00 a year.
Only Boardmember/Councilmember Christina Shea joined me in approving the Fire Museum’s request for help in preserving their collection from damage from vandalism and the elements, instead deciding that a potential income of $16,000 from the rental of an unoccupied hangar at the Great Park by a for-profit car company was more important than preserving the heritage of our California firefighters.
Here is the comment posted on Facebook by Don Forsyth, President of the California Fire Museum and former Battalion Chief at the Orange County Fire Authority (and one of the heroes of the recent shootings in Las Vegas):
“Another disappointing day at the Orange County Great Park Board Meeting! We had our hopes dashed once again!
After attendance and speaking at almost every single Board Meeting for the last 13 years, and after voicing at these meeting at least 10+ times over the last 5 years, our request to be able to use a building that has sat vacant for over 10+ years for temporary storage, we finally had this request placed on the agenda for today’s Board Meeting, by one of the Directors, Melissa Fox! Everyone was excited as this is the very first step in the last 13 years showing us via action, that the OC Great Park Board really wishes to help us build our California Fire Museum and Safety Learning Center (CFM-SLC) within their Great Park.
However, after further discussion, again, the OC Great Park Board voted 3-2 against directing City Staff to negotiate a lease with CFM-SLC for use of Hangar 295 to be able to finally get a location where we can store our 40+ vintage fire apparatus indoors, instead of where they are now stored, outdoors, and constantly being vandalized and deteriorating in the outdoor harsh weather!
We are at a loss for words, and wonder if these are any indications that we should move on, and begin looking elsewhere to build our world-class Public Safety Learning Center and Fire Museum where all of our hard work will be appreciated.”
I, too, am greatly disappointed by the Great Park Board’s decision.
I urge everyone interested in preserving our California firefighter heritage to contact Irvine’s Mayor and the members of the City Council to tell them to provide the California Fire Museum with use of the hangar for storage of their irreplaceable collection.