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Fire Department History
In March of 1875, several members of Ukiah began talks of organizing a fire company. As reported in a local paper at the time, “Ukiah had been favored in her exemption of fire but they knew some day they would be caught napping”. They had water but no apparatus through which to apply it. A move was started to organize a Hook and Ladder Company.
On July 17, 1875, the Public School House, known as the Institute Building, caught fire. Although there were plenty of willing hands to assist with the fire, unfortunately at that time there were no ladders or water readily available to extinguish the blaze. The doors, windows and furniture were saved by removal.
Following the burning of the Public School House, concern of more fires grew amongst the community. On August 7, 1875 a committee of local people were appointed to solicit subscriptions toward the purchase of a Babcock Extinguisher and a Hook and Ladder Truck.
In 1876, Eagle Fire Company was born and in March of 1877 the department was officially organized with C.W. Tyndall as the foreman (the first official fire chief). Eagle Fire Company began with a hook and ladder truck, four Babcock extinguishers, and a house and lot. The newly formed company was responsible for the entire Valley. These first pieces of equipment are currently on display at the Civic Center.
Eagle Fire Company was renamed Ukiah Fire Department (UFD) in the early 1900’s. Then in 1947, the governing body known as Ukiah Valley Fire District (UVFD) was formed. UFD provided fire protection for the entire valley until the District separated from UFD on July 1, 1989. UFD was then responsible for anything inside the city limits, while the district covered the surrounding valley.
In August 1991, UFD began an ambulance service that staffed EMT II’s, providing the community with advanced life support (ALS) services. On July 1, 1995, Skip Williams was the first paramedic. Although the ambulance service was shut down on April 1, 2013, to date, the engines continue to provide ALS services with firefighter/paramedics.
In March 2012, UFD and UVFD reunited and on July 1, 2017, together they became known as Ukiah Valley Fire Authority (UVFA). The original UFD station on Seminary, with the merger, now consists of equipment and acts as a training ground for firefighters and volunteers alike. Currently, there are two staffed stations, one covering the north (Lovers Lane) and one to the south (Laws Avenue). UVFA provides ALS services and fire protection to the entire Valley.
The UVFA has an annual operating budget of approximately $4.8 million and is staffed by 19 full-time safety employees (Fire Chief, 3 Division Chiefs, 6 Captains, 6 Engineers and 3 Firefighters), one full-time administrative-clerical employee and up to 25 dedicated volunteer firefighters that augment the career personnel including a Volunteer Division Chief. UVFA maintains four fire stations (two staffed with career personnel) with the daily staffing consisting of a minimum of two/two person ALS crews cross staffing Type I (Structural) and Type II/III (Wildland Interface) Engines and an on-call Duty Officer. Each of the two staffed stations are assigned a utility vehicle and each of the four Chief Officers are assigned a staff/command vehicle. Reserve and Volunteer assigned apparatus includes a Type I Ladder Truck (Quint), Type I (Structural) Engine, Type V (Wildland) Engine, Type I Water Tender, Breathing Air Support Unit, Breathing Air and Light Trailer, USAR Trailer and Rescue Boat. UVFA is the host agency for the Redwood Empire Hazardous Incident Team (REHIT) Hazmat Unit and the Mendocino County Fire Chiefs Association’s Fire Safety Trailer.