The City of Burbank was incorporated in 1911, with a population of 500. The first record of any volunteer Fire Chief, Chief O.L. Bashford, was found in an article in the Burbank Review dated February 23, 1912 and the first paid Fire Chief was Homer Davis in 1923. Authorization from the City Council for 14 additional paid firemen on May 31, 1927 brought BFD from a partly paid, mostly volunteer to a paid Fire Department with a holdover of some volunteers. The last record of a volunteer responding to a fire was in June 1928. BFD reached a milestone in its early history with an almost entirely paid Department, three new stations, and two new pieces of apparatus.
In addition to its rich fire service history, BFD has been an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provider for over 40 years. BFD’s paramedic program began on August 19, 1974, when nine firefighters entered a five month paramedic training program. On January 20, 1975, Squad 4 was placed into service followed by Paramedic Engine 4 on March 29, 1976. BFD’s Advanced Life Support (ALS) capabilities were further enhanced on February 1, 1978 when Squad 5 was put into service. BFD assumed full control of ALS delivery in 1979 by taking over the transportation component, converting both Squads into rescue ambulances (RA). The third RA, RA 11, was placed into service on September 15, 1999. In 1993 Burbank Fire Paramedics piloted field treatment protocols, setting the standard for efficient, clinically effective field care for Los Angeles County’s EMS practice. The EMS program delivered by BFD is recognized as one of the best in the State of California.
The Verdugo Fire Communications Center (VFCC) was established on August 1, 1979 by the founding cities of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena. The purpose of VFCC was to allow the three cities to make optimum use of fire service resources and increase the overall effectiveness of the fire defense system of the joint cities. The agreement also included a “no borders” clause – the closest fire engine responded to calls regardless of jurisdiction. VFCC continues to be jointly owned by the Tri-Cities and provides fire, EMS and rescue dispatch services on a contract basis to the Hollywood Burbank Airport and nine other cities in the region: Alhambra, Arcadia, Monrovia, Montebello, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, San Marino, Sierra Madre, and South Pasadena.
Today, BFD is a full service fire agency, providing a variety of services to the community including fire suppression, EMS, fire prevention, emergency preparedness, residential and commercial inspections, and public education. BFD has also become an Internationally Accredited Agency by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI)/Center for Public Safety Excellence and has received a Class 1 Public Protection Classification rating from the Insurance Services Office.
BFD consists of seven divisions: Fire Prevention Bureau, Fire Suppression (which includes the Hazardous Materials [HazMat] and Urban Search and Rescue [USAR] Programs), Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Management, Fire Apparatus & Equipment, Training & Safety and Administration. The Office of the Fire Chief is within the Administration Division and the Fire Corps, our volunteer program, is administered by the Emergency Management Division.
BFD has six fire stations and a training center. Frontline emergency response apparatus include six Engine Companies, two Truck Companies, three Paramedic RA’s, a HazMat Response Vehicle, a Water Tender, a Brush Patrol and a Battalion Chief Command Vehicle.