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Santa Clara County Fire Department
About County Fire
The mission of the Santa Clara County Fire Department is to protect lives, property and the environment within the communities served from fires, disasters and emergency incidents through education, prevention and emergency response. For more info visit their website.
The Santa Clara County Fire Department is a unique fire district that has evolved into a progressive, full service fire department over the past 60 years. Through contracts with cities and district consolidations, County Fire now provides fire protection services to the cities of Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga; the towns of Los Altos Hills and Los Gatos and adjacent unincorporated County areas.
The Santa Clara County Fire Department has grown to include 17 fire stations to protect approximately 100 square miles and serves a population of over 226,000 residents. County Fire employs 283 personnel to provide fire suppression, emergency medical and fire marshal services, hazardous materials regulation and response, rescue and extrication, public education and fire investigation services. The department’s suppression force is also augmented by volunteer firefighters.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors serves as the Board of Directors for the Santa Clara County Fire Department. Department concerns are addressed at scheduled Board meetings, which are held at the County Government Center, 70 West Hedding Street in San Jose.
County Fire is funded by a share of the 1% property tax levy, Homeowners Property Tax Replacement, supplemental property taxes, and by annual contract payments.
The Chief and his Staff
Kenneth L. Waldvogel has been the Department’s Fire Chief since his appointment by the Board of Directors in 2006. His administrative staff consists of an Assistant Chief, a Director of Business Services, Personnel Services Manager, an Administrative Support Officer and four Deputy Chiefs.
The Santa Clara County Fire Department is divided into five service divisions:
- Administrative Services
- Fire Prevention Division
- Support Services
- Operations Division
- Training Division
Comprised of general and administrative support units, Administrative Services is responsible for accounting, budgeting, long range planning, employee benefits, payroll, human relations, labor relations, management of information systems and special projects. Administrative Services also ensures that all operating procedures are within the authority conferred to County Fire by the Board of Directors and applicable laws.
FIRE PREVENTION DIVISION
The goal of the Fire Prevention Staff is to prevent fires and hazardous materials incidents through education and awareness, building plan review, construction inspections, hazardous materials regulation and fire safety inspections of commercial businesses, multi-family residential buildings and schools.
The Fire Prevention Division also administers the Santa Clara County Fire Marshal's office for code enforcement in all county facilities as well as the unincorporated County areas and manages the Hazardous Vegetation Abatement Program.
To prevent hazardous materials releases, Hazardous Materials Specialists inspect all facilities that store and handle dangerous chemicals on a regular basis. If a hazardous materials spill occurs “Haz. Mat. 2,” a fully equipped hazardous materials response vehicle, staffed by specially trained personnel responds to provide immediate identification, control and containment of the chemicals.
The Support Services Division is responsible for maintaining vehicle and fire apparatus, general supplies, communications and all facilities. Recent facility upgrades include installation of fire protection systems, construction for dormitory and restroom privacy, meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements while improving energy efficiency.
There are four fire mechanics that maintain the County Fire fleet, which includes 55 vehicles and 38 fire apparatus; two personnel purchase and deliver department supplies and three personnel provide all facility maintenance services. The Support Services Captain coordinates the communication systems utilized by County Fire personnel; such as, the computer automated dispatch system, portable and base station radios, as well as the Global Positioning System (GPS), so that communication systems remain efficient and reliable.
The Operations Division coordinates the resources for emergency responses to fires, rescues, hazardous materials releases and fire investigations. How emergency personnel respond and handle each 9-1-1 call is planned and managed by the Operations Division. The Operations Division also manages fire investigations. The Arson Investigator responds to all suspicious fires and is assisted by a team of personnel also trained in arson investigation.
The fire suppression (emergency response) force is divided into three shifts: A shift, B shift and C shift. Each shift is 24 hours long. Suppression personnel are assigned to a 3-4 schedule (on-duty every other day for three shifts and then off-duty for four consecutive days). This schedule averages a 56-hour workweek.
The Training Division coordinates a wide range of employee and citizen education and training; including, new employee training, performance evaluations and testing, promotional testing, continuing education, as well as the safety education and emergency response training provided to community residents.
The Training Division provides the testing, placement and skills training for the Volunteer Firefighter Division, Officer Academies and Special Operations Task Force, which specializes in heavy rescue, hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction responses. The Emergency Medical Services Coordinator manages and facilitates all Emergency Medical Services including the Paramedic Program.
County Fire offers a comprehensive public education program that promotes community health and safety. The public education program is delivered through specially trained County Fire personnel. Training in CPR, fire safety and disaster preparedness training are some of the programs provided through the Training Division.
Local and Regional Partners
County Fire is committed to finding regional solutions to meet the public safety needs of our community. We work closely with other public safety agencies and participate in several regional working groups. At the direction of the Santa Clara County Fire Chiefs’ Association (SCCFCA), these groups collaborate on developing and implementing policies, procedures and operational standards to improve firefighter safety and the quality of service delivered to residents throughout Santa Clara County.
State, Federal and International Partners
County Fire personnel participate in special projects with many agencies, including the California State Fire Marshal’s office (CSFM) and the State Office of Emergency Services (OES). In 2007, County Fire responded with our regional partners to provide staffing and equipment to the Southern California wildfires. Nationally, County Fire is part of Task Force 3 (a FEMA Urban Search & Rescue Team).
Federal grant programs have enabled County Fire and other local agencies to purchase specialized equipment to detect chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive hazards. Homeland Security grant programs have also provided significant funding for regional training programs. During 2007, County Fire hosted nine firefighters from the Lot/Cahors (France) Fire Department and a French intern from the University of Bordeaux as part of an ongoing international exchange program.