American Canyon Fire District
American Canyon Fire District Article by Issa in 2002 ---
At first glance, the American Canyon Fire District seems like any other Fire Department in the country, however, it is far from ordinary. In the following paragraphs, you will learn just how different it is with a detailed and informative look into everything from the facility to the lives of the fire warriors who live and work inside.
Founded in 1957 by a group of citizens, the Department has become more than your average station. Many would think that it is run by the city, but in actually, it is independent from the city and has its own funds and employees, however city taxes are provided. Business operates as usual, with the chief representing the district to the city staff. There are only nine of these fire departments, called Fire Districts in the state at the time of writing this article. Regardless of being required to operate beyond the city lines, the station functions just about the same way as any other. When your emergency is sent to 911, it is first forwarded to the American Canyon police department, which in turn sends your call to the fire department if required. Direct calls to the station are also acceptable but calling 911 is the preferred way to report any kind of related call. It is estimated that 85% of all calls are within the operational boundary. Out of the 1300+ calls they receive a year, about 65-70% are medically related.
With nine units, and staff of twenty-five, it is probably the most advanced station in Napa or Solano County combined. Equipped with the only state certified hazards materials team, called NIHIT, and technical rescue team between the two counties, they are more than prepared for any obstacles that can hit AmCan, or its surrounding areas. The department can respond to just about any building or land rescue event in the area, and can even assist with chemical or other hazard cleanups. Some members are even required to assist other stations across the state if necessary. They are even prepared to turn the station into a fully equipped disaster headquarters for the staff and their families in the unfortunate event that the city is caught in a natural or terrorist disaster, and have plans to evacuate citizens if needed. They're equipment inventory even contains a high tech handheld heat scanner. Nestled deep within the station is a three story training tower where the team performs numerous exercises from filling the building with smoke, to carrying gear to the top of the stairway. It also offers one of the most beautiful views of the city. Due to the fact that no building in AmCan currently spans beyond the height of the tower, it is sufficient for the city's needs. The facility also contains several small offices, kitchen, bedroom, conference room, and fully equipped gym.
The department is also required to inspect all local businesses, once a year, and new homes to make sure water sprinklers, fire alarms, emergency exits, and extinguishers are in good working order.
A quite interesting fact is that a majority of the staff does not live in AmCan but in surrounding areas. In addition, more than 50% are reservists ready to head out to the station if the regulars are sent on duty. And for those of you who use the term fireman loosely, be careful, there is one lone firewoman around.
Despite all their hard work, the staff is regularly involved with the community. During Christmas, the very own Santa Claus himself rides with the staff to meet with and hand out candy canes to the children, or adults who act like children, in the community. They also assist with other organizations and charities in handing out food on thanksgiving, toys at Christmas, and even have a mentor program called Firemen As Role Models (FARM), where a member visits a local elementary school’s classroom once a month to talk to the children. Another program, called the Fire Explorers, allows teens aged 14-18 to participate as junior scouts, much like the boy scouts. The scouts learn valuable lessons in fire safety, and even go on trips such as rocking climbing at Yosemite National Park with the staff. Adults who would like to be part of the department can participate in a reserve program, where they will be on call to backup the department with full training if necessary.
And no, the staff doesn't just sit around and play checkers all day, when they’re not on the job, they get together and play ball on a local softball team.