From 1988 to 1989, Richard Moon served as Fire Chief.
On May 12, 1989, a runaway Southern Pacific freight train with 69 hopper cars carrying a product called “Trona” derailed in the Muscoy area. Seven homes were destroyed and 4 others extensively damaged. Of the 5 crewmembers aboard the train, 2 were killed and the other 3 injured. Two residents were killed and 1 seriously injured.
On May 25, 1989, a Cal/Nev gasoline pipeline, located directly beneath the point of impact of the previously derailed train, exploded with a fire column spurting over 1,000 feet in the air. Subsequently, 2 residents were killed, 3 received serious injuries and 16 received minor injuries. Eleven homes were destroyed and 6 received moderate fire and smoke damage.
From 1990 to 1997, William Wright served as Fire Chief. Chief Wright was the first Fire Chief enlisted from outside the community, coming from Orange County Fire Authority where he served as the Fire Marshal. During his tenure as Fire Chief, the positions of Battalion Chief Aide and Truck Tiller Engineer were eliminated.
Chief Wright changed the configuration of paramedic response from a squad concept to that of ALS engines, with 5 engine companies strategically located throughout the city with 2 paramedics on each of the 5 engines.
In 1996, the area of the city was approximately 60 square miles with an approximate population of 165,000. The staffing of the fire department was approximately 167 personnel.
In 1997, Larry Pitzer became Fire Chief. Also enlisted from outside the department, Chief Pitzer was previously the Operations Chief for the Salem, Oregon fire department.
Chief Pitzer began an aggressive program to replace the deteriorating fleet of fire apparatus. The department broke a long-standing tradition of only purchasing Seagrave and/or American La France fire apparatus, and switched to Pierce fire apparatus. Eight new Pierce engines and a Pierce all-steer 100″ aerial ladder truck were purchased. The obsolete, military-type water tender fleet was phased out and 3 new Pierce brush engines were purchased.
Chief Pitzer initiated an agreement with the San Manuel Indian Tribe, whereas the department will provide fire and EMS response to the tribal lands in exchange for the tribe’s purchase of 3 new Pierce engines and a hazardous materials truck. In addition, American Medical Response and the department enter into a joint EMS venture. The department and AMR will cooperate in the handling of all EMS calls, and each engine within the city now has 1 paramedic assigned.
In 1998, the department entered into a contract with San Bernardino County that assigns all fire and EMS response within the 11 county islands to the city.