Response to Emergencies
The Ventura County Fire Protection District responds to a wide variety of emergencies and requests for help. Our initial response is designed to provide the capability to mitigate the hazards known at the time of dispatch.
The appropriate type and number of units are dispatched by FCC (Fire Communications Center) from the various types of resources we have available. The Apparatus page has information on the resources the VCFD maintains.
Response levels are based on type of incident, location, weather conditions, existing or potential emergencies, resources available and ultimately the information we are provided with. Staffing levels and the staffing of specialized resources are adjusted according to existing or potential conditions.
The closest available resource, plus the closest available resources of the type needed, respond to incidents. GPS (global positioning satellite) systems on our vehicles and CAD (computer aided dispatch) allow us to identify and dispatch the closest available fire engine. One of the priorities of the first arriving personnel is to determine the incident’s needs and adjust the response accordingly.
In some instances the closest available resource may come from another fire department. Mutual aid, automatic aid and other agreements with surrounding fire departments enable us to provide the fastest and highest level of service.
All VCFD fire stations have a staffed fire engine in service. Attacking the fire is the primary purpose of a fire engine. The engine crew will attack the fire by establishing a water supply (usually a fire hydrant), pulling hose lines off the engine and then using them to extinguish the fire. All of the firefighting equipment carried on a fire engine is designed to help attack and extinguish a fire.
At strategic fire stations throughout the county, the VCFD staffs a fire truck along with an engine. Supporting the fire attack effort, as they work to extinguish the fire, is the primary purpose of a fire truck. The responsibilities of a truck crew can include forcible entry (so firefighters can gain access to the fire), turning off utility services (such as gas or electricity that could be dangerous to firefighters or make the fire worse), clearing smoke and gases from the building (ventilation), search and rescue, placing ladders for access to the building and many other tasks. Fire trucks also carry specialized tools to extricate patients trapped in vehicles at traffic collisions.
Some Ventura County fire stations staff paramedic squads or rescue engines.
Also available for response are specialized units with unique capabilities for incidents involving special hazards or needs. These units are not normally staffed. Personnel with the specialized training and qualifications will move from their regularly assigned units at the fire station and respond with these specialized units as needed. Often, these specialized units will respond and operate in conjunction similar units from other fire departments to form a regional response to incidents that present unique challenges.
Crash/Rescue- Crash 50 responds to incidents involving flammable liquids, primarily aircraft crashes, oil field facility fires, flammable liquid storage and transportation emergencies. Crash 50 has the capability of extinguishing flammable liquid fires and securing spills.
Hazardous Materials- The Haz Mat unit responds to incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, etiological hazards or any other unknown substances. The Haz Mat team will isolate, make entry into a hazardous area, identify and mitigate the hazard. They also perform decontamination of victims and emergency personnel.
Urban Search & Rescue- The USAR unit responds to technical rescue incidents. These incidents involve victims who are trapped due to earthquakes, building collapse, cave-in, trench collapse, major transportation crash or other incidents where the entrapment exceeds the capabilities of the regular crews. The USAR team will stabilize the scene, make access to and extricate the victim.
Water Rescue- The water rescue unit responds to water rescue incidents that exceed the capabilities of land based units. The team is capable of in water rescue and/or watercraft rescue. The team is trained in swiftwater, ocean and lake rescues.
Wildland/Aviation- The Wildland unit operates the Handcrew and bulldozer resources on wildland fires in the construction of fire control lines. The unit also operates with the Sheriff's Aviation unit on the helicopter's response to fire and rescue incidents. Staffing levels within the unit vary with the seasons and wildfire threat.