Tracy Fire Department in the 21st Century
The Tracy Fire Department offers a diverse range of services to an area of approximately 160 square miles and over 100,000 people. Today, the department has a force consisting of 60 professional firefighters, 12 reserve firefighters, a fire chief, three division chiefs, ems manager, two civilian fire inspectors and a two-person administrative support staff. Members of the Tracy Fire Department serve and protect the City of Tracy, as well as all of the surrounding rural areas from the Stanislaus County line to the Alameda County line. The response area is protected by six staffed engine companies and one truck company operating out of six fire stations. Additional available equipment is a water tender, a hazardous materials (hazmat) unit and a medium rescue unit.
The new millennium brought with it great progress in the department’s ability to provide services to customers both within and outside the city limits. The “firefighter” position was created just after consolidation, as several two-person engine companies received a third crewmember. Many new firefighters were hired as a result.
In 2001, Tracy Fire became one of the only departments in northern California to equip all first-out apparatus with Thermal Imaging Cameras, the latest technology in the fire service at the time. An Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) program was started with the formation of a Type 3 light rescue trailer. Following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Homeland Security grants were provided with the intent to upgrade the department’s capabilities to a Type 2 medium rescue level.
In 2003, an Advanced Life Support (ALS) program was launched, with Engine 93 becoming the first to “pilot” the program by staffing a paid firefighter-paramedic each shift. With its success, and the vision of department and city leaders to eventually provide ALS services from each station, Engine 97, Engine 96, Engine 98 followed by Engine 91 were gradually outfitted with ALS equipment and paramedics. With this commitment came the need to hire additional paramedics, which has become the current standard for entry-level new-hires within Tracy Fire.
At the close of 2003, the Mountain House Community Services District, located northwest of Tracy between Interstate 205 and Byron Highway, began contracting for fire protection services from the Tracy Fire Department. This included the purchase of an engine, which was housed at Station 94 until the building of the first Mountain House fire station. Fire Station 98 in Mountain House was dedicated in December of 2005. Station 95, located on Linne Rd., was closed in order to staff Engine 98 with its initial two-person company. This station was ultimately staffed with three personnel including an assigned paramedic. Tracy continued to provide service to the Mountain House community until the contract terminated in September 2015.
In March of 2005, Station 91 was relocated from the downtown area to W. 11th Street, a recommendation given from a Standards of Response Coverage report conducted in 1998. Following this relocation, department and city leaders re-commissioned a new Standards of Response Coverage study to obtain more current statistical data regarding Tracy Fire’s ability to arrive at incidents within the SCFA goal of 5 minutes of dispatch, 95% of the time within the city and 50% within the district. The report was finalized in 2007 and then reviewed by Kirchhoff and Associates for recommendations and implementation in 2008. As a result, performance objectives were modified to more accurately represent NFPA 1710 Standards. The new response time objective became and remains to arrive on scene within 6.5 minutes total reflex time (911 call, call processing, firefighter turnout and travel time) 90% of the time for a municipal level of service and 10 minutes total reflex 90% of the time for a rural level of service. Among numerous other recommendations, Mobile Data Terminals (MDT’s) were added to each apparatus to assist with response efficiency and dispatch communications. Implementation of constant staffing to 3-person companies was standardized and a second company (Engine 91) was added at Station 91.
In 2007, the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) entrusted Tracy Fire with a Type 1 out-of-county apparatus, OES Engine 236, as part of the Region IV mutual aid deployment plan to respond to large scale incidents as requested throughout the state. OES Engine 349, which replaced OES 236 in late 2008, is currently assigned to Station 92, which provides the personnel to staff “initial attack” strike team requests. Tracy Fire also responds as part of the California Office of Emergency Services (OES).
In 2008, Station 96 was designated as the hazardous materials station in order to assist with hazmat training requirements and to provide a more effective response to incidents involving hazardous materials. At least two hazmat specialists are assigned on each shift.
In fiscal year 2007/2008, the Tracy Fire Department responded to over 6,100 calls for emergency service, down from over 6,500 calls the previous fiscal year. The majority of 911 calls are emergency medical in nature, ranging from acute illnesses to injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents. On average, fire-related incidents make up 10% of all dispatches, including structure, vehicle, and wildland fires. The department also responded to numerous hazardous materials, service and good intent calls, and false alarms.
Tracy Fire personnel provide various non-emergency services to the public, including: fire prevention, public education, Learn Not To Burn curriculum to all fourth-grade students, community emergency response team (CERT), child automotive restraint safety training, smoke detector installation, CPR training and fire safety inspections.
Today’s department is comprised of highly qualified, skilled men and women committed to providing the highest level of service and care to those whom they are sworn to protect. As the community grows and the needs of the citizens evolve, Tracy Fire maintains our commitment to adapt to the ever changing demands placed upon us.