Fire Service

Fire Service:

The City Council will have to carefully consider the future of Sierra Madre’s fire service. The current structure of the City’s Fire Department requires review to ensure that it is safe and sustainable. Sierra Madre has a long and proud tradition of relying on volunteer firefighters and paramedics to augment the City’s fire service.  Over time, we have shifted to a hybrid force, with some full- and part-time paid personnel and some volunteers.  Changes in State regulations governing the certification of fire fighters means that volunteers must receive the same training as full time staff.  Once trained, these volunteers quickly find paid employment in other communities, and we cannot offer them similar opportunities.  This means that we can no longer attract and sustain enough volunteer participation to ensure that our Fire Department is always fully staffed and ready to respond to emergencies.

Currently the City has 10 volunteer firefighters.  As recently as January of 2015 the fire service had 29 volunteers.  This decline has been in process for some time as the chart below shows. The reduction in volunteers means the City has to increasingly rely on the fire suppression expertise and response of our neighboring municipalities to keep our residents safe.

Fire Graph 1

Not surprisingly, the decrease in the number of volunteers to the fire service has exactly corresponded with changes to State laws and volunteer applications received. 

Fire Graph 2

The City Council will build on the recommendations of the Public Safety Committee and determine which path is the most responsible for Sierra Madre. These choices will include:


1) Moving to a fully-paid fire force with a changed response model;

2) Seeking out a partner or private company to provide paramedic and transport services and using the savings to focus on fire suppression;

3) Contracting out both Fire and Paramedic services.


The discussions will take place in the coming months. The City Council will complete its due diligence and require staff to look at all available options which will improve our fire service and keep Sierra Madre safe.