HISTORY OF THE WINDSOR FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
The Town We Serve
Many of the area's farms/orchards have been converted to vineyards, a number of which produce world-class, award-winning wines. Prune and pear orchard acreage has given way to thousands of homes; parks; schools; retail shopping centers; light industrial and business parks; new office buildings; and two hotels.
Since 2000 a major downtown renaissance has occurred, including renovation of historic buildings, construction of new hotels and mixed-use 3-story buildings, and the addition of a town green that serves as a multipurpose community outdoor event venue. Over the next decade significant additional changes will occur in the downtown area as old, now vacant properties are developed into mixed-use, community-need responsive, “green” residential and commercial spaces.
The Early Fire Department
In its earliest days, fire department emergency calls were answered by women volunteers, called "Fire Phone Operators,” who would telephone each volunteer firefighter to advise of the emergency. This system was in operation until 1979, when enough money was raised to purchase dispatch pagers, and dispatch duties were turned over to the California Department of Forestry (now Cal-Fire), the main dispatch for all Sonoma County fire agencies.
The WVFD was funded solely by donations and funds raised at the annual "Firemen's" pancake breakfast. An important early donation was the land at 444 Windsor River Road, where a 3600 square foot fire station (also funded with donations) was built in by the volunteer firefighters in 1968. Another very important gift was a 1967 American LaFrance fire engine, given by a local developer in 1977.
The Fire Department Comes of Age
In 1988 the department’s first full-time, paid staff—two full-time captains—were hired. The station was staffed Monday-Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The paid staff was on call-back status for after-hours emergencies, and the department's volunteers provided the majority of the response to nighttime emergencies. In 1991 two engineer/firefighters were hired, and the District went to daytime staffing seven days a week.
As the department and the community grew, so did the need for a larger, more modern fire station. In May 1997 construction of an 18,000 square foot headquarters fire station at 8200 Old Redwood Highway was completed. This $2.6 million facility comprises administrative offices and a modern, efficient fire station.
The Station’s training/meeting room also serves as the Town of Windsor's Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which will centralize all emergency operations for any major disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, hazardous materials spills, etc.
Station 1 houses one Type 1 and one Type 3 engine, a light rescue, a mass casualty trailer, and a State of California Office of Emergency Services water tender.
In 1997 the department hired a full-time battalion chief/fire marshal, and in August 1998, with the addition of another captain and engineer/firefighter, the department began 24/7 staffing. Today WFPD has 18 paid employees, 6 residential firefighters, and 9 volunteers—including two volunteer battalion chiefs—-who serve more than 30,000 citizens in a 30.75-square-mile area. Their services are augmented by a volunteer chaplain and a volunteer photographer.
Windsor Fire Protection District in the New Century
In 2008 the Town of Windsor began construction of a new station, a $5.5 million, 7700 square foot, ADA compliant, “green,” two-bay station that has the capacity to sleep 8. Located at 8600 Windsor Road, Station 2 went in-service on September 17, 2009. It houses the 75-foot quint ladder truck, a Type 1, and a Type 3 engine. A 1,600 sf auxiliary building houses a water tender, a cook trailer, and storage items. The “old” Station 2, at 444 Windsor River Road, was demolished in January 2011.
In 2010 the department discontinued its 45-year volunteer program. Changing times and changing demographics rendered the volunteer program no longer effective solution to staffing shortages.
Windsor Fire Protection District Today
The District has two captains and two engineers on duty each day. In addition there are two 40-hour paid firefighters Monday-Friday from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, and each shift has a “residential” firefighter who works from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am. A cadre of nine volunteer firefighters supplements staffing when possible.
In 2010 the District entered into negotiations for the formation of an administrative Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between Windsor Fire Protection District and its neighboring Rincon Valley Fire Protection District. Upon approval of each District’s Board, the JPA will create a separate entity that will improve financial, managerial, administrative, and staffing efficiencies. This is not a consolidation of the two fire districts, although consolidation is a possibility in the future to ensure optimal operating efficiencies in the face of declining revenues.
As the District moves forward, it will continue to be guided by its Mission Statement:
We are committed to providing superior service