Patterson Fire Department Part 1: Fire Stations and Volunteers Explained

Educational Series

Driving around Patterson you will see many different firefighters within our community. It is hard to tell us all apart since we all drive red fire engines and wear shirts with badges. Here is a breakdown of the different firefighters in the community of Patterson.

Patterson Career Fire Department

Within the city limits of Patterson, the Fire Department is operated by the City of Patterson. They budget for a staff of 6 Captains, 6 Engineers, and 6 Firefighters and staff two stations. Many of those individuals are Paramedics and allow for both of our stations to be Advanced Life Support (ALS). This allows for three shifts, A, B, & C, and three personnel per station on each shift. Having three shifts means that each firefighter is scheduled to work 48 consecutive hours every 6 days. This allows for staffed fire protection 365 days a year, including holidays and weekends. When a member takes a vacation or is sick, other members must come in during their off-duty time to work that shift to ensure that each station has three personnel always working. This staffing model is done for firefighter safety and the safety of the community. These 18 budgeted positions are represented by the IAFF Local 4577 Union. We have been short staffed for over three years and firefighters have consistently been working many more days than their scheduled shifts to make up for the lack of staffing.

In addition to the personnel staffing the station, there are 3 Division Chiefs and one Fire Chief. The three Division Chiefs are assigned a shift, A, B, & C. The Division Chiefs work 48 hours every 6 days. Most departments would call this classification a Battalion Chief, however, here, they are called Division Chiefs.

As the City of Patterson expands more stations will be built and staffed. This will ensure a safe and timely response to your emergency by career firefighters. In fact, our third station is in the planning stages and will likely be in the area of Olive Avenue and Sycamore Avenue.

CAL-Fire

The fire station on Sperry Avenue next to the Cal-Trans yard and across from the Flying J is a CAL-Fire Station. These are state firefighters and protect mostly the State Response Area (SRA). This includes the hills on the West side of the freeway, the freeway, and some other areas. They are staffed about 9 months out of the year and when staffed they assist us with mutual aid within the city limits on incidents such as structure fires. Because this station has staffed personnel, they are able to quickly respond to emergencies. This allows us to more safely fight fire and meet safety standards and regulations on these dangerous incidents. When they are out on other incidents or unstaffed, we must rely on other unstaffed departments outside the city limits of Patterson to provide this staffing.

West Stanislaus County Fire Protection District (WSCFPD)

WSCFPD is a Fire District that manages the unincorporated area of the West Side of Stanislaus County outside of the city limits of Patterson and Newman. They manage the areas of Vernalis, Westley, Grayson, rural Patterson, Diablo Grande, Crows Landing (although there are no active volunteers in Crows Landing), and rural Newman. WSCFPD is a strictly volunteer organization with no career staff. WSCFPD has 4 dedicated stations and pays the cities of Patterson and Newman to share their city stations to house District apparatus. Currently, WSCFPD pays the City of Patterson a portion of some of the Chief’s salaries for some of their management time to run the District and for use of some of the station located downtown to house apparatus and provide a day room for the volunteers. We rely on these volunteers for our greater incidents such as residential working structure fires, commercial working fires, larger vegetation fires, and Multi-Casualty Incidents (MCI). We also provide mutual aid to them regularly on their greater incidents or when there is additional staffing needed due to poor response from the volunteers.

City of Patterson Volunteers

While the City of Patterson does still have city volunteers on the books, most of them respond to WSCFPD calls in WSCFPD apparatus and identify as “West Stan” volunteers. This is for a few reasons: the call volume of the City of Patterson has increased to a point where it has required career staff to handle most of the calls, many of the most supportive and active volunteers were hired on as career staff either in Patterson or for other fire departments, and until recently there was not a reserve apparatus for volunteers to respond to City of Patterson calls. These City of Patterson Volunteers are still active in the Patterson Volunteer Firefighter Association to support the community of Patterson in their spare time.

The structure fires on 10/4/2023 and 10/7/2023 received zero Patterson Volunteers or apparatus, despite requesting assistance, volunteer support is getting harder to maintain and other staffing options need to be considered. The fire on 10/4/2023 did get a West Stan Volunteer Captain, who was paid through a WSCFPD stipend program, to respond to District calls in a District pickup truck.

IAFF Local 4577

The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 4577 is the Union that represents the current career personnel for the City of Patterson. We ensure that working conditions, worker’s rights, and fair wages are maintained for these personnel. We do community outreach within Patterson such as the “Fill the Boot” drive that provides money to the Firefighter Burn Institute, we play a major role in the annual Toy Drive that provides toys to families in need on the West Side of Stanislaus County, we assist the Patterson Volunteer Firefighters Association with their projects, help with the Love Patterson Event, and we are working on new programs to assist within the City of Patterson as we grow. We are supposed to be staffed with 18 personnel, but we are currently at 17 and have not been fully staffed in over 3 years.

Patterson Volunteer Firefighters Association

This association was created to assist the Patterson Fire both career and volunteer with equipment and needs. The Patterson Volunteers run the Patterson Volunteer Firefighters Association. They meet monthly in Westley for a dinner and business meeting. In the past, this association has helped purchase a Rescue Truck, a Water Tender, stair chairs (special chairs to get people who cannot walk safely down stairs), and rescue tools. They are funded by an annual pancake breakfast. The California Highway Patrol grant funds for the “Every 15 Minutes” program are dispersed through this organization. They have a foundation in memory of one of their past volunteers, Dallas Hernandez, an annual golf tournament raises money for a scholarship in his name so individuals can attend fire classes. They started the Toy Drive which gathers toys through donation locations around town and when “Operation Santa” brings Santa Claus around town in December on the old fire engine.

Continue to Part 2: Does the City run the ambulance?

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