Located in the small town of Chilcoot, California, the Sierra Valley Volunteer Fire Department provides primary fire and emergency medical services to the residents and visitors in and around the area. We service the Sierra Valley Fire District which encompases approximately 80 square miles.
SVVFD has an all volunteer fire station with approximately 15 active volunteer members of the department.
Volunteer officers and firefighters receive no compensation. The department is headed operationally by a volunteer chief, Rick Allison, who is serving his second year as Fire Chief.
Administratively, the department is run by a five member board of commissioners and handle all financial matters relating to the fire district.
The department's station is located at in Chilcoot on highway 70. All current department apparatus is owned by this department and was purchased primarily with funds raised by the department through donations and fund raisers.
Volunteer membership is available to citizens at least 16 years of age who are willing to donate their time and talents to helping the community. Membership categories are available for those who wish to pursue firefighting and emergency medical service (EMS) activities, EMS only, and for those who wish to help with administrative and fund raising activities of the department.
The Fire Chief is elected from among eligible members every other year for a two year term. The Chief is responsible for all operational aspects of the department. The Chief appoints all other line and staff officer positions from among qualified members.
Officer selections are done annually for terms beginning January 1 of each year. All officers must meet the requirements specified in the County code and virtually all of our officers far exceed the minimum requirements.
The Sierra Valley Fire Protection District is one of the largest in Plumas County and is surrounded by U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The coverage area is approximately 80 square miles and currently includes an additional coverage area of approximately 60 square miles which is surrounded by private land as well as USFS and BLM. Within our main response area are ranches, remote homes, residential sections, a mobile home park, and businesses, and a lake/campground recreation area. There is one main highway that serves as a secondary route to other major highways, ten miles of railroad that serves as a secondary route to other main railroads. With these distinct and challenging characteristics, we must be prepared for a variety of firefighting situations.
Though our primary concern is to protect structures from wildland fires and localized fires, being in such a remote area we also get called on medical and motor vehicle collisions. Our role is critical as the nearest back-up first responder and medical personnel are ten miles from our department and up to 20 miles from the recreation area.
We provide fire protection and basic emergency medical service to a total population of 684 people with the influx of more than 13,000 people in our recreation areas. The Frenchman Lake Recreation area is seasonal and is host to campers, boaters, and fishermen. In the last three years an All Terrain Vehicle Tour business has been added to our area of responsibility and is active twelve months of the year unless a major storm prevents their access. These outdoor recreation functions bring increased firefighting and life-saving situations to our department.
Currently we have a five year contract agreement with the Hallelujah Junction Fire Protection District (HJFPD) for structural fire protection and EMS within the southern portion of Lassen County, increasing our coverage area by an additional 60 square miles and our population by an additional 190 people.
This includes approximately 100 more structures consisting of ranches, houses, a store/gas station, an agricultural inspection station, and a major four lane highway. On that highway military equipment is continually transported to a storage disposal depot which is thirty-five miles from our station, but it is not in our coverage area. Though this contract agreement augments our budget, it has also presented a new risk by increasing our burden to meet the firefighting needs within another community and the probability of increased call activity for our firefighters and their equipment.
The Frenchman Lake Recreation area is our responsibility along with an ATV Tour business that began three years ago. These outdoor recreation functions bring a seasonal addition of over 13,000 people into our rural area each year with increased risk in our area of responsibility.
Our small community does pull together twice a year for our fundraisers and fully supports our annual Christmas Tree Sale. The money that is raised annually averages $7,000.00 per year and helps to augment our minimal budget by covering emergency repairs on our aging vehicles and equipment as needed, tools, additional supplies, as well as mileage reimbursements for our firefighters to attend trainings.