The City of Palo Alto Fire Department provides services to a resident population of 75,000. The large number of high-technology businesses and the Stanford University campus increase the daytime population to over 125,000 persons. Service areas for the Fire Department include the Stanford University campus and unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. The Department's response area covers nearly 50 square miles, from Skyline Boulevard in the Palo Alto foothills to the Palo Alto Baylands, and includes two freeways, an airport, two significant hospitals and several medical centers, a large industrial and research park, an internationally acclaimed university, high-rise buildings, a large wildland and urban interface, and the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay.
Calls for Service
Palo Alto Fire Department responds to over 8000 incidents annually. So to what kind of calls for service do we respond? More than half of the incidents are medical calls, which means heart attacks, strokes, dizziness, disorientation, falls, accidents, and anything that requires medical attention. Those folks are assisted and evaluated for possible transportation to a local Emergency Room at a hospital. Paramedics have some ability to provide medication, but most of what we provide is bandaging, stabilizing, oxygen, some pain medications, airway management and transportation to higher medical care. We also respond to fires in homes, cars, dumpsters, wildland, anywhere that is beyond the control of a fire extinguisher or other simple extinguishment. We also provide post-fire investigation to ensure a fire has been completely extinguished.
Rescue calls are for vehicle accidents or other situations where hydraulic equipment (like the "Jaws of life"), air bags (to lift heavy items), or cutting tools (to make access or free someone from tight locations) are need to secure the scene. These are typically our most dangerous calls as we are often in the middle of traffic trying to do our job. Freeway incidents are the most dangerous due to the speed of cars and the unexpected sight of emergency vehicles in the middle of the road. Please drive carefully, especially when we are out there helping someone. We also respond to fire alarms for both commercial and residential buildings. Typically we are notified by an alarm company when a fire alarm is activated and no one is at home that can verify whether or not there is an emergency. We also provide a variety of other services such as emergency water evacuations, child locked in a car, unknown odors, illegal burns (unregistered fire pits in the back yard), and more. Pretty much anytime folks don't know who to call and they need something handled expeditiously, they call the Fire Department. Our fire engines are like giant, red tool boxes, we bring whatever we may need to mitigate a situation and provide safety and security to those in distress. When we are not responding to calls for service, we are training to improve our skills or learn new equipment. We have dozens of mandated classes for which we must maintain certification (CPR, EMT, paramedic, Bloodborne Pathogens, Confined Space Rescue, Command training and more. We also train with neighboring jurisdictions and other Santa Clara County fire departments. We often share resources and must be prepared to coordinate our efforts in any situation and that requires constant training and updating of knowledge, skills and abilities We also participate in dozens of community events (school demonstrations, station tours, fire extinguisher demos, neighborhood activities and more) every month. When we are not participating, we may be hosting a movie night, pancake breakfast or open house. We are also responsible for maintaining the fire engines (cleaned weekly or more), the fire stations, our personal protective clothing, the small tools and equipment, etc. Everything must be in working order at all times so that we are prepared for whatever call for service comes into the dispatch center. In addition we are responsible for inspecting businesses to ensure that they have put in the appropriate fire and emergency mitigation safety measures required by State law and local municipal code/ordinances. While we do this, we also pre-plan the facility so that we have an understanding of what a building looks like before there is an emergency. We may document the floor plan or update the location of emergency equipment within the building. This is just a sample of how we spend our days. Each day is different and it is our responsibility to be ready for whatever comes our way. We are proud to serve this community and take pride in providing the citizens, visitors and workers in the City of Palo Alto and on Stanford Campus the highest level of service available
We are a professional team of men and women dedicated to safeguarding and enriching the lives of anyone, anytime, anywhere with compassion and pride.
The men and women of the Palo Alto Fire Department commit to the following values in serving our communities and each other:
Integrity - We serve our community and support each other with respect and honesty. We approach our commitment with Dignity and Courage. We are accountable through our every-day actions and communication.
Innovation - We creatively integrate tradition with technology acknowledging the wealth of resources available in our community and department to improve health, safety and welfare.
Professionalism - We are dedicated to providing quality service in the delivery of a cost effective and superior service. Our attitude, appearance, knowledge, skills and abilities are reflective of our commitment to excellence.
Diversity - The members of our department exemplify diversity on multiple levels. Our skills, backgrounds and experiences allow us to effectively respond to the vast range of emergencies and outreach opportunities.
Compassion - We exist to serve our communities and support each other with empathy, sincerity and respect.
Education - We strive to continually improve ourselves and our skills to increase our own safety and better protect the communities we serve. We strive to stay abreast of the latest developments in emergency response. We provide educational opportunities through community outreach to help increase knowledge of preparedness and personal, family and home safety.
The current Insurance Service Organization rating for the City of Palo Alto is ISO Class 2. The last certification process was completed in the spring of 2012.
Fire Department Organization
The Fire Department has 115 personnel organized in three areas:
1. Emergency Response (Operations
2. Environmental & Safety Management (Fire Prevention Bureau)
3. Training & Personnel Management (Support)