Fontana

On November 28, 1928 Earl B. Reeves was appointed by the Fire Commission in Fontana to be the Fire Chief of the newly formed Fontana Fire Department. Reeves was a former San Bernardino City Fire Captain. The commission believed he would be the best man to lead the 12 volunteer firefighters protecting Fontana. In 1929, Chief Reeves and several of his volunteer firefighters also became some of the first police officers in Fontana, serving in a dual role and filling yet another need in their community.

Years later, in October of 1953 a new recruit was hired by the Fontana Fire Department. His name was R.J. Keen. Just five years later Keen, who was also a Marine and World War II veteran, had become a battalion chief. By 1968 he was Fontana Fire Department’s Assistant Chief, and then named Acting Fire Chief in 1971, and Fire Chief in 1972.

Soon after being named Fire Chief, Keen approached the Muscoy Fire Protection District and the Bloomington Fire Protection District to discuss forming a Joint Powers Authority (JPA). Muscoy and Bloomington agreed, and on July 1, 1973 the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved the formation of the JPA and the Central Valley Fire Protection District was born.

R.J. Keen

Bloomington

Prior to 1967, fire protection in Bloomington was provided by a single California Department of Forestry [CDF) lieutenant who staffed Station 1 (currently Station 76) Monday thru Friday from 8 AM — 5 PM, along with 15 “callmen” from the community.

In addition to staffing several pieces of fire apparatus, the callmen would transport patients to the surrounding hospitals free of charge using a 1963 Chevrolet panel van.

In the mid-sixties a second station was built to reduce response times to the area south of the Southern Pacific railroad tracks.

In 1967 the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved the formation of the Bloomington Fire Protection District. They appointed five people from the local community to fill the Fire Commission Board, and hired 10 full-time firefighters. Those firefighters worked 72-hour work weeks, and were supported by the 15 callmen. Bloomington Fire took over dispatch responsibilities from CDF, and hired an office worker. But, Station 2 was closed because they could not afford to staff both stations.

In 1972 the old panel van ambulance was replaced with a Chevy van that had been converted into an ambulance by a chief officer from Rialto Fire Department and a local Bloomington resident. Together they built and installed the wooden cabinets and countertops in the back of the ambulance

Bloomington Fire continued to provide free ambulance transportation to local residents until a private company finally placed one of their units in Bloomington

Central Valley Fire

The newly formed Central Valley FPD needed a centralized dispatch center. Emergency Communications Supervisor Dave Dowling was one of the key players involved in creating that center. Originally located in the front office of Fire Station 71 in Fontana, that center would develop into what we now know as Comm Center, an increasingly busy and highly technical operation.

In 1982 Central Valley FPD became the West San Bernardino Valley Fire Agency with the addition of a fourth member; the Chino Fire Protection District. But, Chino only remained a part of the agency for three years. In 1985 they became an independent department once again.

But that same year, eight other districts joined the Agency. They included Forest Falls, Green Valley Lake, Hinkley, Lake Arrowhead, Lucerne Valley, Searles Valley, Wrightwood and Yucca Valley. A total of 11 Fire Districts were now included in what would then be labeled, the San Bernardino County Fire Agency. Each of these districts brought with them a history of their own to add to the County Fire legacy.

Lake Arrowhead

The push for full-time fire protection in Lake Arrowhead began in 1938 after the Arlington Lodge was destroyed by fire. A community meeting was held, and Joe Henck was elected Fire Chief. At that time it was determined that 12 full-time firefighters were needed to protect Lake Arrowhead.

The Following year a fire commission was established to raise funds and community support for the new fire department. In March of that year, seven members of the new department attended a Red Cross First Aid class. And in April, Chief Lehman, an experienced firefighter from the City of Pomona was hired to lead the Department.

In 1943 Lehman retired and was replaced by Les Salm. Under Salm, the department bought several fire engines and a fireboat.

The old Lake Arrowhead school house, built in 1926, became a fire station in 1949. That historical building still stands, and is still a fire station; the home of San Bernardino County Fire Station 91.

In 1957, a second fire station was built on Willow Creek Road.

1959 brought a massive wildfire which burned from McKinley Peak near Highway 330, thru Hook Creek, and . out Squints Ranch. That fire foretold a trend for the future as Lake Arrowhead would be threatened by massive forest fires several more times; the . Panorama Fire in 1980, the 1999 Willow Fire, the 2003 Old Fire, and in 2007 Grass Valley and Slide Fires.

In 1965, Chief Salm was replaced by Chief Raymond Ceniceros who came from the U.S. Forest Service. During his tenure he built Stations 3, 4, 5, and 6, purchased four more engines, established two more full-time paid positions and replaced the fireboat with an amphibious “duck”.

Ceniceros retired in August of 1979. Assistant Chief Gary Bratton then briefly held the position. But by the time the Panorama Fire broke out in November of 1980, Chief Jim Lawrence, originally from Burbank Fire Department, was in command.

The Panorama Fire burned 23,800 acres of San Bernardino, Highland and the front side of the San Bernardino mount range, killing 4 people, injuring 77 more, destroying 280 homes, and damaging 49 others. The fire threatened Lake Arrowhead along with several other mountain communities, but was stopped along highway 18.

Before Chief Lawrence took command, Lake Arrowhead firefighters Ed Poe and Dick Hamilton had already attended paramedic school at their own expense, and had been pushing for Advanced Life Support services in Lake Arrowhead. Chief Lawrence agreed that paramedics were needed, and in 1981 the community supported the idea as well, voting in favor of the “Mountain Community Advanced Life Support Tax.” That tax paid for three paramedic positions in Lake Arrowhead.

Even though only three were funded, the department established six paramedic positions, two per day on Medic Ambulance 94. But they only had four qualified Firefighter/Paramedics to cover those six positions. Those first paramedics were Jeff Carrera, Dave Loest, Charlie Mazza and Ed Poe. The rest of the area continued to be covered by Basic Life Support ambulances operated by Mountains Community Hospital.

Just four years after paramedic service was established , Lake Arrowhead along with seven other departments joined the San Bernardino County Fire Agency.

Lucerne Valley

In 1985, Lucerne Valley Joined up with seven other districts to join the San Bernardino Valley Fire Agency.

Wrightwood 

The Wrightwood Volunteer Fire Company was formed in 1947. Construction of their new fire station on Cedar Street was completed in 1948. The first Fire Chief, Al King, was provided by the U.S. Forest Service.

Ambulance service in Wrightwood began in the early 1950’s when Julian Odom, father of now retired Deputy Chief Dan Odom, purchased a 1950 Chevrolet panel van to use as an ambulance. Julian Odom also served on the community’s first Fire Board alongside Al Rakestraw and Row Westlake.

By 1968 the community was protected by what was then called the Wrightwood Fire Protection District, a combination volunteer and paid department, led by Chief Bob Hedden. The modern day Wrightwood fire station (Station 14) located on Elm Street was built in 1978 with federal grant money secured by Chief Hedden.

Paid Call Firefighter/Paramedics came to Wrightwood the following year. They were Chuck Blakeslee, a career Fire Captain with Monrovia, and Firefighter / Paramedic Dave Faust, also with Monrovia. According to some sources, these two residents of Wrightwood may have been the very first to provide paramedic services anywhere in San Bernardino County. Their San Bernardino County Health (now ICEMA) accreditation numbers were 2 and 4 respectively. But it would be several years until the community had full-time paramedics assigned to the fire station.

Wrightwood jointed the San Bernardino County Fire Agency in 1985

Yucca Valley

In 1949 the citizens of Yucca Valley had already experienced the ravages of fire and were concerned enough to purchase a fire truck and an auxiliary pump, and form a volunteer fire department led by Fire Chief Clarence Davis. Chief Davis was only able to serve in the position for a short time and Clay Tunstall soon replaced him as Fire Chief.

In those early years Yucca’s small volunteer fire department was supported by the Annual Firemen’s Ball and other fundraisers. But by 1951 it was obvious that the growing town would need more substantial fire protection. So, in July of 1951 the citizens of Yucca Valley voted overwhelmingly in favor of forming the Yucca Valley Fire Protection District and a special district tax to support it.

The district originally covered just 9 square miles. The first Board of Commissioners consisted of Odis Ray, Jule Boldizsar , Clay Tunstall, Jess Tonkin, and A.C. Stout.

But the county taxes collected from the special district only covered operating expenses, and Yucca Valley needed a fire station. So, Bill and Rose Pace donated a piece of the Bucking Horse Ranch to the fire District.

The Annual Firemen’s Ball continued to raise funds for the district, and in October 1953 the Yucca Valley Community Players wrote and performed a three-act play especially for the benefit of the Yucca Valley Fire Department Building fund. The play was a mystery written by M. Brooks Buxton, entitled “Checkmate”

The fire department in Yucca Valley has been providing ambulance service to the area since 1958 when their first ambulance was purchased by the Lions Club and sold to YVFD for $1.

By 1959 the District covered 22 square miles, and Station 2 (Now Station 41) was opened on land donated to the district by Charlie and Joan Watkins.

Yucca’s first paid fire chief was also hired that year; Chief Harry Brissenden. By then the district was running a staggering 40 calls per year.

The original Station 1 was closed in 1969

In 1974, another fire station (now Station 42) was built on more donated land. The community has Harold and Cathleen Reed to thank for that donation By the time that station was built the fire district covered more than 50 square miles.

Two years later Chief Clearance Gish secured federal funds, known as the Rogers Grant, and sent three firefighters to paramedic school; Kent Koble, Gary Pohlman and Pete Younghusband. By 1977 the paramedic program in Yucca Valley was operational; less than a decade after the country’s first paramedics hit the streets in Los Angeles.

Yucca Valley Fire Protection District was one of the 8 departments that joined San Bernardino County Fire Agency in 1985

CSA 38

In 1997, San Bernardino County cancelled its contract with CDF and transferred CSA 38 to county fire. This brought the communities of Baker, Baldy Mesa, Devore, Fawnskin, Grand Terrace, Joshua Tree, Harvard, Mentone, Mountain View Acres, Needles, Phelan, San Antonio Heights, and Spring Valley lake into the County Fire Family.

Adelanto

In 1999 the City of Adelanto became the first City Contract for services with San Bernardino County Fire.

Hesperia

In 2004 with a population of more than 70,000 people to protect, the City of Hesperia decided to enter into a contract for services with San Bernardino County Fire and the City of Hesperia became part of the County Fire family.

Victorville

In 2008, the City of Victorville contracted with the San Bernardino County Fire District to provide Fire and EMS services. The Employees of the Victorville Fire Department were transitioned to the County and all services were assumed by the county including the Southern California logistics Airport.

Crest Forest

On May 21, 2013, the Crest Forest Fire Board voted 4-1 to enter into  a contract with the San Bernardino County Fire Department. County Fire and CFFD immediately started the transition process by establishing a committee to handle all the details, and quickly completing the needed training, paperwork, and background investigations. On July 8th, the District employees completed a week long classroom orientation. On July 13, 2013 San Bernardino County Took over services and CFFD employees transitioned as County Employees.

29 Palms

In July of 2016, the City of Twenty Nine Palms annexed into the County of San Bernardino and utilized the FP-5 service zone fee to enhance services and save tax dollars for the city. Employees of Twentynine Palms fire were transitioned to the County of San Bernardino Fire Department.

San Bernardino City

On July 1, 2017 the San Bernardino City Fire Department was annexed into the San Bernardino County Fire District. All employees were transitioned to the County. The City of San Bernardino took advantage of the FP-5 Service Zone fee and saved millions of dollars in its general fund.

Upland

On July 22, 2017 the Upland Fire Department was annexed into the San Bernardino County Fire District. All personnel were transitioned to County Employees and placed throughout the County. The City of Upland took advantage of the FP-5 service zone fee and saved approximately 3.5 million dollars each year in it’s General Fund.