The California City Fire Department (CCFD) began as a part of the Kern County Fire Department in 1959. The fire station was staffed with volunteers and was established in an unincorporated part of Kern County that was later to become California City.
California City was incorporated in 1965 and established the California City Fire Department. Four paid firefighters were recruited, one firefighter per 24-hour shift, and a Fire Chief. In 1969 the Fire Station on Hacienda Boulevard was constructed and continued to serve the community well, setting the trend for several “firsts”. The 1970s and 80s saw regular volunteer activity, but little change and growth with the newly formed department. CCFD was the first fire department in Kern County to be trained to the First Responder level, followed by Emergency Medical Technician a few years later.
Significant city growth began in the 1990s and subsequently the fire department as well. Three additional firefighters were hired giving each 24-hour shift 2 on-duty firefighters per shift. Beginning in 1994, CCFD began the first structured reserve firefighter program in Kern County that received on-the-job training and apprenticeship to complete the California State Firefighter I Certification process. This reserve program served as the main hiring pool for firefighter vacancies.
An automatic aid agreement was established with the Kern County Fire Department and the Kern County Emergency Communications Center (ECC) who began dispatching all emergency calls for the city. This provided an increase in service to the community and began a strong relationship with the Kern County Fire Department that remains in place to this day. In 2020, a Mutual Aid Agreement was signed with the Edwards Air Force Base Fire Department, further expanding the resources available to California's Citizen's and Edwards military personnel. Mutual aid is an integral part of CCFD operations that allows the department to meet and adhere to OSHA and NFPA guidelines for firefighting and emergency response. 2020 was also a time where better working relationships with the local EMS (Emergency Management Services) agency and partnering EMS providers was forged, helping to provide more robust emergency services for California City.
Three additional firefighters were added in 1996 bringing the total number of personnel to three firefighters per shift. The need for these additional personnel was put on display during the Silver Saddle Resort Fire as teams of firefighters fought to extinguish the multi-alarm fire; one of the largest in East Kern County's history at the time.
The mid-90s and subsequent years became years of medical advancement for CCFD. Fire Departments across the Nation began incorporating more and more medical services and CCFD kept its traditions of “firsts” as the first fire area department to provide Combi-tube (advanced airways) and AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) on medical aid calls. In 1999 the department increased the level of service again by adding Paramedic Response to its services; becoming the first in Kern County to do so.
In 2002, CCFD formed the first hybrid private / government partnership with a private helicopter company to provide Air Medical transport service within the city and surrounding areas. Though short-lived, California City's helicopter program saved many lives and became the catalyst for other helicopter providers to begin service or increase service within Kern County, and similar partnerships started to occur- in surrounding counties in Southern California. In 2022, CCFD began utilizing state-of-art portable field ultrasound devices as trail study, which allow our firefighter paramedics the ability to see inside the body for trauma and critical medical conditions as a noninvasive procedure. The ultrasound devices were donated by the East Kern Health Care District with some cases being featured in the study.
In 2012, the voters of California City passed a new special tax supporting Fire and Police Services in the City, which allowed the department to hire a fourth firefighter for each shift. This staffing level allows the department to meet OSHA and NFPA standards to aggressively attack fire fires without having to wait for mutual aid support to begin interior structure firefighting activities and rescues. The fire department has relied upon special tax funding for most of the department's existence and will most likely continue to rely on that funding until a new tax base can be generated. CCFD’s Fire Station 19 has remained as one of the busiest fire stations in Kern County and continues to see a 12% average rise in call volume each year.