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“We still make house calls”
The Ukiah Fire Department is a combination fire department. This simply means that we have a paid “career” staff and a volunteer branch. Our current Volunteer roster contains 20 active members and has room for 25. Once entering into the Volunteer program all necessary safety equipment and basic uniform items are supplied to each qualified volunteer at no cost. Volunteers are required to attend weekly training and are highly encouraged to perform shift coverage as their time may allow. New Volunteers, in addition to their weekly training and attendance at the County Chief’s Academy, are required to perform a 12 hour shift assignment with a shift of their choice once a month during their probationary period. A typical probationary period lasts 12 months.
Volunteers are capable, with the appropriate amount of time in service and training, to hold the same rank and responsibilities as any of the career staff, such as Paramedic, Hazardous Materials Specialists, Apparatus Engineer or even become an officer. Volunteers are also encouraged to participate in Prevention Programs and Public Education activities throughout the year as they come up. These are always fun activities which typically allow the Volunteer to share their pride and skill to the audience at hand.
Volunteers are considered as the same important resource as paid personnel, and are treated the same when it comes to training and education. Volunteers are provided with training four evenings per month, plus specialized training on other occasions. Volunteers are sent to schools for specialized subjects, just as are career personnel.
Volunteer personnel are trained in the operation of fire engines and aerial apparatus, are trained in hazardous materials, and are prepared for emergency incident management.
The benefit of having a highly-trained and knowledgeable contingent of volunteers is not limited to the handling of emergency incidents, but also creates a source of individuals who can compete for and obtain permanent full-time career positions with the Department.
Volunteer personnel receive many of the same certifications as the paid staff. Some volunteers are certified as Hazardous Materials Specialists, Paramedic, Volunteer Fire Officer, Swift-Water Rescue Technician, etc. Operators of fire and ambulance apparatus are also certified for operation of those vehicles.
When an emergency occurs, the delivery to the scene of sufficient resources is essential. The Ukiah Fire Department maintains a minimum staffing of four on-duty career personnel, which may or may not be sufficient for a given incident. To supplement this staffing need, Volunteers are provided with training and communications which will permit them to respond directly to an emergency incident with the on-duty staff. This supplemental resource can be extremely valuable, since these individuals may even arrive prior to the fire engine or ambulance. This resource also permits a better utilization of overall resource allocation when multiple incidents occur, which is not at all unusual.
In support of the Volunteers, several social activities are held annually to acknowledge their commitment to the City and to serving the community. Dinners are held 3 or 4 times per year, and an annual Awards and Appreciation Dinner is held to recognize those individuals who have excelled or given an extra effort during the previous year. Volunteers receive a “stipend” based upon their attendance at training and their response to emergency incidents.
How To Volunteer
Individuals wishing to volunteer with the City of Ukiah Fire Department may obtain an application at the Public Safety Department, located in the Civic Center, 300 Seminary Avenue, Ukiah. Those wishing further information may leave a message for the Volunteer Coordinator at 707-463-6266.
To participate in the Volunteer Program, an individual must complete a review of the application, a background check, a physical examination, and must complete the annual Mendocino County Fire Academy. Those with prior experience or certification in the fire service will be given consideration on an individual basis.
The City of Ukiah, and the Ukiah Fire Department, hold all personnel to the highest standards. Being a member of the Ukiah Fire Department Volunteers is an honor as well as being an interesting activity which provides a service to the community.