Protecting Life, Environment & Property
From our beginning as a group of 17 volunteers with a hand-drawn soda and acid cart pulled to a fire by anyone available, the Chula Vista Fire Department has grown into a highly professional, trained force of over 140 men and women. In 1919, a “Model T” fire engine was purchased and the first fire station was opened at 316 Third Avenue.
Just two years later, the station moved to City Hall, then located at 292 Third Avenue, and the first full-time paid firefighter was hired; thus establishing the Chula Vista Fire Department on May 21, 1921. The “Model T” served for a few years and was traded for a 1923 Seagraves pumper, the “Old Goose”. This pumper is still owned by the Fire Department and is awaiting a much needed updated restoration.
Eventually, the volunteers were disbanded and became a social club, and eleven full-time firefighters were hired to provide fire protection for the City. In 1948, the Department purchased a new fire engine and moved into a new station at 447 F Street. This is the current site of fire station 1 and serves as a Battalion Headquarters. Since that time, the Chula Vista Fire Department expanded its services and grew its network of fire stations to four.
In 1986, the City of Chula Vista annexed the Montgomery Fire Protection District located in the southwestern region of the City. This agency provided fire protection for the 22,000 residents living in the 5 square mile portion of San Diego County. This fifth fire station stands at 391 Oxford Street.
In 1991, temporary Fire Station 6 opened for service at 975 Lane Avenue in Eastlake, and in 2005, was replaced by the current fire station located at 605 Mount Miguel Road. Station 6 now serves the communities of Rolling Hills Ranch, San Miguel Ranch, Bonita Long Canyon, Eastlake Shores, and Bella Lago. The fire station houses a brush engine and has the capacity to house a paramedic ambulance company if needed in the future.
Station 7, located near Otay Ranch High School, was opened on September 11, 2003, with a statue and special memorial to the 343 firefighters who perished at 9/11. Station 7 provides service for the Otay Ranch community and is housed with a truck and engine company. Station 7 is the Battalion Headquarters for the eastern part of the City.
Station 8 opened for service in December 2006, and is the newest station in the system, serving the Eastlake communities for The Woods, Eastlake Vistas, Eastlake Greens, and Eastlake Trails. This station is located in The Woods at the intersection of Woods Drive and Hawthorn Creek, and houses one engine company.
Fire Station 9 was opened in the spring of 2006, at 266 East Oneida Street. Station 9 provides service to the communities of Castle Park and Otay, located in the southwest part of the City. It is important to note that this station was the former Fire Station 3 and had been closed after a new Fire Station 3 was built and located at 1410 Brandywine Avenue. The former fire station building was shuttered for years until its’ reopening and re-labeling to Station 9. This station provides an additional key engine company to supplement the service provided by the busiest Fire Stations, which are Station 1 and Station 5.
In March of 2008, the Fire Department contracted fire and emergency medical dispatch services with the City of San Diego Fire Rescue Department. With this contract came upgraded response capabilities including Automatic Vehicle Location and enhanced mutual aid capabilities.
Currently, the Chula Vista Fire Department’s nine stations respond to nearly 19,000 calls for service annually, while serving a population of 256,000, covering an area over 52 square miles. These stations are staffed 24 hours per day with 36 personnel plus two battalion chiefs for each 24-hour shift.
Protection of life is critical and response must be fast and accurate. Chula Vista Fire Department is dispatched for all 9-1-1 calls for service using state of the art automatic vehicle location (AVL) technology that identifies the closest and most appropriate emergency resource type and response vehicles are then dispatched. This technology allows for residents to receive the highest service within the most rapid time.
In addition to providing emergency medical response and firefighting services to the citizens of the community, the Fire Department also operates training and fire prevention divisions. The Training Division provides training in firefighting and rescue skills to the Department as well as personnel from other parts of the region. These training services ensure that Fire Department personnel meet the necessary training requirements in order to deliver quality service to the community within the proper safety standards. The Training Division also provides technical rescue training not only to department personnel but to first responders throughout the country. The Chula Vista Fire Department Training Facility is located at 850 Paseo Ranchero adjacent to Fire Station 4.
The Fire Prevention Division provides comprehensive fire safety engineering plan review and inspection services so that new development and existing businesses are in compliance with the latest fire regulations ensuring the safety of the community. Fire Prevention also provides 24-hour coverage for origin and cause fire investigation services. In addition, the Chula Vista Fire Department provides fire and life safety education and outreach to City residents, including annual community Fire Prevention Week activities, fire and life safety educational programs for all ages, school programs, and fire station visits at no cost.
The Fire Department has completed its transition to a new level of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) which provides a Paramedic or Advanced Life Support (ALS) on all responses from the department. The Department’s fire paramedics provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) services to those who need assistance including the capacity to start an intravenous drip (IV), defibrillation of the heart, decompression of a collapsed lung and various other advanced aid procedures.
In July of 2013, the Fire Department began providing this level of care via five engines located at stations 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. By June of 2015, the Fire Department began providing ALS level of care via the remaining engines located at stations 1, 2, 3, and 4, two years ahead of schedule. Recently, Truck 51 and 57 have been added as ALS providers making the Fire Department fully ALS capable – years ahead of schedule.
In the event of a community disaster or emergency, the Chula Vista Fire Department operates an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC is staffed by emergency personnel and trained City staff members with the purpose of supporting residents during disaster by focusing on life safety, evacuation needs, as well as public utilities and infrastructure maintenance.
Citizen volunteer opportunities are also available with the Chula Vista Fire Department including the Chula Vista Firefighters Foundation, Chula Vista Fire Explorer Program, Citizens Adversity Support Team (CAST), and Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT).
In January of 2014, City Council adopted a new Fire Facility Master Plan. This plan provides for fire station placement throughout the City to not only meet Growth Management Oversight Commission response thresholds, but to meet National Fire Protection Association response thresholds (NFPA 1710). NFPA 1710 standards are more aggressive in order to ensure a higher level of safety for firefighters, and a higher survivability rate of citizens requiring medical care.
The Chula Vista Fire Department holds a rich tradition of service since its establishment on May 21, 1921. The Department has undergone major changes over the years from the implementation of breathing apparatus and other advanced safety equipment, to the establishment of Emergency Medical Services, to land annexations and Department expansion. Under each circumstance, adaptability and innovation were a key component provided by Department members with the utmost of success each and every time.
While many of the traditions that were in place in days past such as, wearing Class B uniform at morning “line-up,” are no longer practiced; the spirit of hard work, dedication, and care, still resound through the actions of the members of the Chula Vista Fire Department.
About the Chief