Shasta County Fire History
Complied by Douglas Wenham - Assistant Region Chief, Northern Region
The Early Days
During the 1950’s the California Health and Safety Code provided for the establishment of localized Volunteer Fire Companies (VFC) in California. A number of VFC’s were organized in the unincorporated towns and communities across California.
By the 1960’s Shasta County recognized it had a responsibility to provide fire protection for industry in the valley floor (primarily lumber mills). At the same time the County officially recognized the importance of the relationship between County fire protection operations and the VFC’s operating in rural communities.
Beginning sometime in the 1960’s, (may have been as early as 1959), through January 1975 Shasta County contracted with the California Division of Forestry (CDF) to provided limited fire protection. CDF staffed a single fire engine (2494) responding throughout the County from the CDF Headquarters on Parkview Ave. in downtown Redding.
The Dawn of Volunteer Fire Companies and Paid Staff
In 1972 the Board of Supervisors (BOS) commissioned the Rural Fire Study. (Not much can be found on this study, participants or objectives. Believe it was disbanded sometime around 1980 as the County moved forward to contract with CDF).
In 1973 CDF added an Amador engine at Redding Airport (Air Attack Base) for the winter months. This engine in addition to E-2494 was staffed in the winter with one Fire Apparatus Engineer supplemented by one Fire Control Aid. The Fire Control Aid worked two 24-hour shifts per week and was paid $150.00 per month by the County.
It was during the early 1970’s that the formation of many of the community based volunteer fire companies began. With limited funding and support from the county communities banded together to raise funds and construct fire stations.
On November 5, 1974 Fire Zone 1 was officially organized into the dependant County Service Area No. 1 – Fire Protection, (CSA #1) with the BOS acting as the governing body. The initial CSA #1 encompassed approximately 102,000 acres and served a population of approximately 15,000 persons. Rural community centers in the initial service area included Jones Valley/Silverthorne, Bella Vista, Palo Cedro, Centerville and Keswick. CSA #1 is alternately and interchangeably known as the Shasta County Fire Department (SCFD). The remainder of the County - the unincorporated area beyond CSA #1 and not within the boundary of an independent special district was designated Zone 2. Both Zone 1 and Zone 2 had different tax rates.
In January 1975 Shasta County terminated its contract with CDF and contracted with Enterprise Fire Department to operate the staffed fire engine. E-2494 was changed to “County Engine 1”. Six Firefighter/Engineers were hired, three paid by the County and three paid by CETA.
In July 1976 SCFD was actually formed by hiring Fire Warden Don Kemp and moved to Shasta College along with 1 Captain (Tim Thompson), 2 Engineers and 4 Firefighters.
In 1978 SCFD reached an agreement with the City of Redding to staff the Airport fire station. Additional personnel were hired to staff County Station 2 at the Airport.
A New Era for SCFD
On January 2, 1980 the BOS requested the California Department of Forestry (CDF) prepare “A Countywide Fire Protection Study” to examine the feasibility of Shasta County contracting with CDF for life and property protection in the areas currently served by the SCFD.
In February of 1980 CDF presented the fire protection study to the BOS and subsequently on July 1, 1980 Shasta County entered into a cooperative agreement with the California Department of Forestry for the administration and operation of the SCFD. Fire protection facilities included:
17 VFC’s in the communities of:
2 Schedule “A” paid stations at:
4 Amador stations at:
On March, 22, 1982 a meeting held at Igo-Ono VFC regarding the expansion of the company to the West Valley area including coverage of the new high school. (Partly driven by the need for better fire protection for the new West Valley High School) In June of 1982 Anderson Union High School approved an agreement to house a volunteer fire station at West Valley High School campus.
In 1984 the Soldier Mountain VFC was formed to protect the Dana-Glenburn area of eastern Shasta County and the Platina-Wildwood VFC was formed to protect the far southwestern portion of Shasta County.
On November 1, 1985 the Amador Stations at Shingletown and Diddy Wells were closed due to budget cuts. A month later, December 1, 1985 the Schedule “A” Station at Redding Airport also closed due to budge cuts.
On July 1, 1986 the Cloverdale VFC succeeded from SCFD and merged with the Happy Valley FPD.
On November 4, 1986 the Fire Suppression Assessment Ordinance known as “Measure B” was passed by voters of CSA #1 and provided a $20.00 annual parcel tax for purchase and repair of fire apparatus.
In 1986 Fire Zone 2 was annexed to CSA #1, thus creating a countywide CSA for fire protection. CSA #1 is generally described as all of that unincorporated area in Shasta County that does not fall within the boundaries of either an independent special district that provides fire protection services or under CDF jurisdiction.
SCFD Continues to Fine Tune Operations
In 1990 French Gulch FPD contracts with CSA #1 to become part of the SCFD. In December of 1990 SCFD terminates its agreement with Anderson FPD to house a fire engine and staff. E-47 was moved from Anderson to CDF Station 43 at the Redding Airport.
In September 1991 BOS directs the County Fire Warden to proceed with developing a plan for reorganization for the SCFD as a “traditional fire department organization”. Over the next several months a committee of SCFD staff and members of VFC’s met to work on the reorganization plan.
On August 17, 1993 the BOS approves the SCFD reorganization ordinance 93-10.
On November 2, 1993 voters in Millville approve Measure G to succeed from SCFD and become its own fire protection district.
June 28, 1994 the BOS approves Resolution No. 94-6 establishing Policy and Procedures for SCFD.
On October 31, 1995 the BOS accepts dissolution of the French Gulch FPD and inclusion to CSA #1.
In 1998 the Amador fire station at Burney closed due to budget constraints. On December 8, 1998 the Fire Warden addressed the BOS regarding the increase in emergency calls and the decreasing budget and potential level of service issues.
On December 29, 1998 the BOS established an interdisciplinary Ad Hoc Task Force to study SCFD service levels and funding. The outcome of the Task Force study was increased funding to provide for equipment, facility and training enhancements for SCFD.
On June 13, 1999 the Shasta Cascade Hazardous Materials Response Team (SCHMRT) became operational with CCFD designated as the lead agency.
On July 20, 1999 a MOU between SCFD and Shasta County VFC’s was signed by the BOS Chair. The MOU was to facilitate effective and efficient delivery of fire suppression and emergency medical/rescue services in CSA #1. The VFC’s, acting in concert, shall be deemed one party rather than 19 separate parties.
The Twenty-First Century
In 2000 a new Amador Station at Shasta – CDF Station 58 was established.In November of 2000 ballot “Measure A” was presented to voters of CSA #1. Measure A proposed a $30.00 annual parcel fee to fund fire/rescue vehicles for SCFD. Measure A was not passed by the voters.
On January 3, 2005 a new Amador fire station was established at Shasta College – Station 73. Although funded by Shasta College the majority of emergency responses are to SCFD jurisdiction.
On April 12, 2005 the BOS authorized county administrative staff to review the cost-benefit impact of the CDF contract versus administering with County staff. The SCFD Task Force was charge with conducting the review. In November 2005, after five Task Force meetings CAO Doug Latimer recommended to the BOS that the review of the CDF contract be terminated and continue to contract with CDF.
On August 25, 2009 living quarters were established at VFC 32, Palo Cedro for Schedule “A” personnel.
E-43 was moved from Station 43 to Station 32 (Becomes E-32) which established the first County owned, career staffed fire station to complement the VFC.