Tuolumne County Fire Department


Division Overview

The Tuolumne County Fire Department, through a cooperative fire protection agreement with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), preserves life and property, promotes public safety, and fosters economic growth through a commitment to prevention, preparedness, response and recovery as an all-risk emergency responder and leader in our community.

In calendar year 2019 Tuolumne County Fire Department (TCFD) responded to 5,951 incidents within its jurisdictional boundaries which includes 95 vegetation fires, 41 structure fires, 406 other fires, 4,183 medical aids, 299 haz-mat/emergency standbys, and 928 public assists or other calls. This annual total represents a 2.2% increase over prior year and 11.7% increase over 5 years.

The Tuolumne County Fire Department is funded for 24.5 FTE positions; 21.5 of those through the Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement with CAL FIRE and other agreements with Mariposa County and Columbia College. Those positions include an Assistant Chief (1), Administrative Assistant (1), Training/Safety (2), Emergency Command Center (3.5), Prevention Bureau (2), Engine Operations (14 FTE), and Fleet (1). The County also has 57 Volunteer Firefighters which includes six Fire Explorers (under 18), 6 student firefighters at Columbia College, and 6 Volunteer Resident Firefighters.

There are 5 major components of the TCFD: Administration, Fire Operations, Fire Prevention Bureau, Training Bureau, and Fleet Services.

  • ADMINISTRATION: Consists of administrative staff that complete all clerical, finance, volunteer personnel management, and logistical support of all the different components of the Fire Department.

  • FIRE OPERATIONS: Consists of two combination paid/volunteer fire stations, supervision of ten fully volunteer fire stations and 57 volunteer firefighters. The Department jurisdiction includes nearly 2,200 square miles outside of the City of Sonora, Tribal Lands, Community Service District Fire Departments, and Fire Protection Districts.

  • FIRE PREVENTION BUREAU: Provides a safer environment for the citizens and visitors of Tuolumne County by preventing the loss of life and property caused by fire or explosion through public education, enforcement of fire codes, laws and County ordinances related to fire and life safety. This includes fire plan review, site inspections, code enforcement, permit issuance, fire cause determination, and public education through school programs, fairs, and other many other local community events.

  • TRAINING BUREAU: Oversees all volunteer training including the annual basic volunteer firefighter course, coordination and presentation of mandated and professional improvement training. The Training Captains also coordinate the administration and operations of the Columbia College Fire Department TCFD Station 79 and coordinates, presents, and participates in regional training with other fire agencies within and out of the County.

  • FLEET SERVICES: Is responsible for the preventative maintenance and emergency repairs of the fleet. The Fire Department fleet consists of 11 utility/overhead vehicles, 21 fire engines, 6 water tenders, 7 snowmobiles, a fire boat, and a mobile breathing support/rescue. The average age of all the fleet vehicles is 26 years.

Allocated Positions by Year

Adopted Budget By Year

* Each department is part of a "Fund". Many times, a department or even a fund may show greater expense then revenues for the current fiscal year. This does not account for money that was not spent in prior years, also known as "beginning fund balance". To see beginning fund balances for each fund click here. When creating the annual budget Counties are required by law to adopt a balanced budget, meaning the total expense cannot exceed the sum of revenue plus beginning fund balances.

Recent Departmental Accomplishments

  • Adapting the delivery of emergency and non-emergency services to provide a safe working environment for staff and the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • BOS approving the purchase of a type 1 fire engine. For the increased efficiency, decreased out of service time, and increased safety to the crews and public. To be delivered in Spring, 2021.

  • Completion of the Draft 2020-2024 TCFD Strategic Plan to provide a vision of the future for TCFD.

  • Enhancing the cooperative relationships among all the fire agencies within the county.

  • Improving public outreach and education by participating in over 50 local events and increasing our presence on social media.

  • The Fire Prevention Bureau conducted over 300 mandated site inspections and 600 fire plans reviews for the safety of our communities.

  • Completion of the Volunteer Basic Firefighter Academy through the challenges of COVID. Graduated 10 new Volunteer Firefighters.

  • Awarded over $600,000 in grant funds for self-contained breathing apparatus replacement, defensible space inspectors, a fire-safe demonstration garden, and the purchase of firefighter personal protective equipment.

  • Submitting over $2 million in private, local, state, and federal grant applications for recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters, firefighter personal protective equipment, fire prevention and education programs, proactive fire code and life safety program, replacement of the mobile breathing support and rescue vehicle, replacement of unsupported mobile and handheld radios.

Top Departmental Concerns

  • Stabilized and appropriate funding is the most challenging issue for the continued viability of the Fire Department. This includes the need for a funded fleet replacement program for an aged fleet, specialized equipment replacement program (Jaws of Life, rescue equipment, tools), new career positions (administrative and operational), staffed fire stations and facilities improvements, and volunteer recruitment and retention.

  • Increased staff workload with increased development and emergency response expectations. The number and complexity of emergency responses continues to increase while operational and support staffing levels remain stagnant while equipment ages and becomes less reliable.

  • Implementation of an offensive proactive commercial fire code and life safety program for the protection of the citizens and emergency responders.

  • Using technology to provide more efficient client service and increasing access to information, forms, ordinances, and reports.

  • Building on a strong foundation, continuing the momentum to improve fire services delivery throughout the county with allied agencies.

Looking Forward- Planning Goals

  • Increase operational efficiency
    • Continue the momentum to improve fire services delivery throughout the county with allied agencies.
    • Analyze and utilize data to implement and capitalize on advanced technologies.
    • Enhance communications infrastructure in the Department’s command and control dispatching system.
    • Strengthen community relationships and increase access to TCFD services.

  • Stabilize funding to maintain an appropriate level of service
    • Analyze current funding allocations to ensure budget efficiencies.
    • Seek out additional sustained revenue.
    • Search out alternative funding sources.

  • Provide exceptional public safety and emergency service
    • Increase the recruitment and retention of Volunteer Firefighters.
    • Build a new fire station in or near the community of Jamestown.
    • Fund additional full-time career-staffed fire stations.
    • Increase the response percentage of current Volunteer Firefighters.
    • Enhance fire prevention through a proactive commercial fire code and life safety inspection program, data collection, and public education.
    • Increase education, planning, and preparedness for the public in the event of a catastrophic natural or human-caused disaster.

  • Approval of the 2020-2024 Tuolumne County Fire Department Strategic Plan