Chico Fire Chief talks about staffing concerns

The Chico Fire Department just added five new recruits to its team, but Chief Steve Standridge says this still doesn't solve the staffing issue his department has had for years. The chief said the issue has become worse since the Camp Fire.

Posted: Mar 1, 2019 10:47 PM
Updated: Mar 2, 2019 1:34 PM

CHICO, Calif. -- The Chico Fire Department just added five new recruits to its team, but Chief Steve Standridge says this still doesn't solve the staffing issue his department has had for years. The chief said the issue has become worse since the Camp Fire.

"Oh absolutely, it's not questionable whether we need it or not," said Standridge.

Standridge said he's benchmarked Chico with other cities with similar size and call volume.

"And clearly we're well below what would be an adequate level of staffing for our call volume, level of risk and population size," said Standridge.

The population size has increased in Chico since the Camp Fire, putting pressure on an already existing problem.

"There's been a bump, an increase in call. We've made some adjustments with Butte EMS that have helped mitigate that to a certain extent," said Standridge. 

He says he hopes this pattern continues.

"Otherwise if we can't we'll definitely see a spike or increase," said Standridge.

Action News Now spoke with former Chief Steve Brown who said he had been pushing for an answer for the same problem when he was in charge 11 years ago.

"It is very good, it is well equipped, but it is pretty far below any kind of national standard you might apply," said Brown. 

Brown said the station closures in north west Chico don't help with the impact of the population increase after the Camp Fire.

"Just recently the police department said with all the extra people that are here, they are just catching up and now they're behind again and the fire department is well behind," said Brown. 

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Dry weather, sunny skies, warmer temperatures, and gusty north winds will drive elevated fire danger today. We'll have even stronger winds, but cooler temperatures on Tuesday. Fire danger will remain elevated. There will also be a chance for light showers in the Sierra on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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