Loma Prieta Volunteer Fire & Rescue

Jaci Viskochil, Mike Coryell, Guy Denues and Alex Leman

 

Loma Prieta Volunteer Fire & Rescue, started in 1962, was originally called the Loma Prieta Civil Defense Fire Team. The property on Old Summit (17445 Old Summit Road) was a swamp for sale, making it affordable to purchase. All materials and labor were donated. Originally, the equipment was military surplus until the mid 1970ís when the California Department of Forestry (CDF) under contract to Santa Cruz County Fire took on the volunteer fire department. CDF upgraded some of the equipment and gear and continues to train the department with up to date information and techniques.

We are one of eight volunteer companies in Santa Cruz County Fire. In 1997, the community lost the station due to fire. With the help of insurance, Santa Cruz County and the community, we were able to rebuild the station and purchase new equipment. Annual operating supplies are purchased with a combination of county funds, individual donations and the proceeds from our annual fundraising event, the Firefighters Barbecue, held each year on the first Sunday of June. We hope you have enjoyed the event and will continue to do so in the future.

We have twenty members and are always looking for more. We enjoy providing public education. We speak at the preschool and grade school. We also support local events with first aid coverage. Seventy percent of our members are EMTís (Emergency Medical Technicians) equipped with medical trauma bags and oxygen that they carry at all times. Fifty-five percent are driver/operators, meaning they have a Class B license and related training to drive the fire engines. Many also hold amateur radio licenses. We are well dispersed throughout the area and respond from our homes in our private vehicles to the call or to the station to pick up fire engines. Often, due to proximity, our volunteers arrive to provide medical aid before fire apparatus or ambulance. You can find out more about the department on our Web site: www.lomaprietafire.org.

Equipment

We have a 2200-gallon watertender housed at the Burrell Fire Station on Highland Way supporting other engines with water during fires. Itís thirty feet long and weighs twenty tons. We also have Engines 44 and 47, Rescue 44 and Attack 48.

The engines respond primarily to fires in structures, vegetation and automobiles. They may also respond as additional resources to other incidents. They hold 500 gallons of water and are equipped with foam, a better fire protectant for threatened structures, vegetation and vehicle fires because it penetrates better than water.

Rescue 44 is the vehicle you see most often. It responds to medical calls and vehicle accidents. It is equipped with gear for over-the-side rescues, auto extrication and medical emergencies. Based on a Ford F450, it was built to specifications to meet the needs of our response area.

Engine 44 and the rescue vehicles are housed at Station 44 on Old Summit Road.

Attack 48 is an older vehicle that will soon be replaced by a new truck that we are able to purchase as a result of fundraising efforts and private donations. Attack 48 is a four-wheel drive vehicle that carries 350 gallons water, medical gear and tools. This is a smaller truck that is used for calls on the east side of our territory (Old San Jose/Mt. Bache area). The 4x4 design makes off-road areas more accessible for us.

Our new attack vehicle will be a Ford 4x4 F550 capable of transporting patients from inaccessible areas to awaiting ambulances. It will be outfitted with a compressed air foam (CAF) unit and housed at Station 48 near Summit Woods on Old San/Jose Soquel Road.

Engine 1768, a four wheel drive "brush rig," operated and owned by CDF, responds from Burrell Station. These paid firefighters staff Burrell year round. A seamless relationship includes monthly training shared by the two departments for smoother execution on the fireground. When you need burn permits, call to request them from Burrell, 408-353-1022.

Service area

Loma Prieta Volunteer Fire responds to all 911 calls in our response area 24 hours a day. We cover a 25-square mile area. Our territory includes Loma Prieta Ridge (Summit Road) from Mt. Bache to the Bear Creek/Araki Road area. On Highway 17, we respond from Summit Road South to Laurel Curve. We cover down Old San Jose/Soquel Road as far as Enchanted Valley. We have also responded as part of an OES Strike Team to major wildfires as far away as Los Angeles and Sonora in the Sierras.

We respond to between 300 and 400 calls per year. Forty-five percent of our calls are for vehicle accidents on Highway 17. Thanks to increasing CHP enforcement, accidents involving injuries have dropped significantly.

The rescue unit and one engine are equipped with defibrillator units. The defibrillators have been extremely valuable. They have saved three out of three patients with shockable rhythms. Due to the remote nature of our area, we often need air ambulances. Multiple landing sites are available throughout the area.

We respond, train and work closely with Station 47 (Burrell CDF) and are included in the mutual response area with Scotts Valley Fire Department, Santa Cruz County Central Fire Protection District and occasionally with Santa Clara County Fire Department in Redwood Estates. During the summer, additional CDF stations at Alma and on San Jose/Soquel Road also support our area.

Funding

Funding for the team comes from two sources. A part of your property tax payment funds the County Fire Department, whose job it is to ensure that all areas are covered with basic protection.

The volunteer team raises additional income through grants, matching fund proposals and fundraising activities to improve the level of service. All monies generated by volunteer efforts go directly into the maintenance of our stations and equipment. Loma Prieta Fire has a wish list on the Web site that details some of the items we need along with their approximate cost. These items include handi-talkies, an additional defibrillator unit, medical gloves and our mapping project.

But we need more than equipment. We need volunteers. Maintaining a force large enough to respond day in and day out is not easy. Not everybody can respond at all times, and the passage of a new law that prohibits paid firefighters from volunteering has cut into our ranks. In order for a modern volunteer force to survive, it requires a balance between young career bound firefighters and those who have their roots deep in the community. The paradox is that those who have the most free time to devote often move on into paid duty, thus shifting the weight to those with full time employment and family obligations. Prospective volunteers should consider the investment in training.

On the plus side, volunteers enjoy tremendous satisfaction. Gaining the knowledge required and putting it to use to benefit your neighbors and community leads to substantial fulfillment. Nobody ever leaves the team because they donít like the mission. Those who are interested in taking the leap should call one of the officers listed below. You can also log on to the Web site to gather additional information.

We welcome all prospective volunteers, male and female. You must live in the response area and be at least 18 years of age. There are a series of classes and training you must attend to be able to respond on calls. All required training is available through CDF, which will put you through a volunteer academy, first responder (medical) training, safety orientation, hazardous materials and confined space training. There is no cost for the training.

 

 

(c) 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 mountain network news All rights reserved.