Our History

Our History

A History of Service

With a strong history of dedicated service dating back nearly 100 years, Ventura County Fire Department has witnessed and recorded many milestones along the way. Take a closer look at some of the watershed moments in our legacy of fighting fires and delivering emergency services to the people of Ventura County.

VCFD History 2

On May 11, 1928, the Ventura County Fire Protection District (VCFPD) is established. Walter Emerick is appointed as the Fire Warden (Fire Chief). Fire headquarters opens at 845 E. Santa Barbara St. in Santa Paula. The building today serves as the Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.


The VCFPD purchased its first bulldozer in November of 1931. First aid kits were added to all VCFPD equipment in 1933.


The Fire District hired its first handcrew to fight wildfires and repair forestry telephone poles in 1942.


In 1950, Division Captains were reclassified as Battalion Chiefs. In 1954, Battalion Chiefs devised a numbering system for all fire engines.


In 1960, fire station names were changed to coincide with the engine numbering system. In 1964, VCFPD issued self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) masks to replace Chemox canister masks.


In 1966, the firefighter work schedule was changed to a 72-hour, two platoon system.


Minimum staffing was instituted throughout the county, ensuring at least three people on duty in a station at all times. The VCFPD also began its Fire Cadet program that year, VCFPD apparatus color was changed from red to yellow, and the Fire District’s first aerial ladder truck went into service in the city of Thousand Oaks.


A mandatory physical fitness program was instituted.


A central dispatch center was established and headquarters was moved from Santa Paula to a more central location in Camarillo.


The Incident Command System was implemented by all partner agencies within Ventura County.


The 911 telephone system went into service.


The hazardous material incident unit (Haz-Mat) was formed.


VCFPD hired its first female firefighter.


VCFPD established its first paramedic program at Stations 31 and 45. Fire Boat 5 was placed into service as a joint venture between the Fire District and the Harbor Department.


 VCFPD headquarters facility in Camarillo was remodeled and enlarged from 6,492 to 28,492 sq. ft.


A new Support Complex housing the Wildland/Aviation division, Supply Unit, and Repair Facilities opened in Oxnard. Computers were installed in all Fire District structural engines, ladder trucks, and command vehicles to implement computer-aided dispatch.


Total Fire District personnel numbered 645 (uniform, civilian, reserve, and seasonal). A new, state-of-the-art Fire Communications Center opened at headquarters in Camarillo.


The water rescue program became certified by the United States Lifesaving Association, with VCFD’s rescue swimmers bring trained to the same standards as lifeguards.


The Cardiac Arrest Management Program is established countywide. All firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians in the county began training in team resuscitation, defined roles, and continuous compressions. The VC-EMSA saw a significant jump in survival rates.


The Cardiac Arrest Management Program is established countywide. All firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians in the county began training in team resuscitation, defined roles, and continuous compressions. The VC-EMSA saw a significant jump in survival rates.


Copter 2 began servicing Ventura County, marking the first military surplus Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk used for firefighting in the County.


Ventura County Fire Department CHIEFS

Walter Emerick 1928-1936
Lucius Orton 1936-1944
Cecil “Pete” Little 1944-1957
Bill Haggard 1957-1971
Stan Masson 1971-1985
Wesley B. Kilcrease 1985-1988
Rand-Scott Coggan 1988-1990
George E. Lund 1990-1994
James E. Sewell 1994-1997
Bob Roper 1997-2012
Mark Lorenzen 2012-2022
Dustin Gardner 2022-Present


VCFD History 1
VCFD First Fire Station and Headquarters
VCFD First Fire Station Headquarters. Santa Barbara Street in Santa Paula.
Fire Station 24 1948 Engine
VCFD Ventura Avenue Fire Station 24 1948 Engine
cropped vcfd logo512.png
VCFD First Ladder Truck
VCFD First Ladder Truck 1972
Paramedic Firefighters
Paramedic Firefighters
VCFD Station 23
VCFD Station 23 - Oak View
VCFD Engine 35
VCFD Engine 35 - Thousand Oaks
VCFD Station 42
VCFD Station 42 - Moorpark
VCFD Firehawk Helicopter
VCFD Firehawk Helicopter
VCFD footer crest logo

Translate disclaimer

The VCFD.org website has been translated for your convenience using translation software powered by Google Translate. Reasonable efforts have been made to provide an accurate translation, however, no automated translation is perfect nor is it intended to replace human translators. Translations are provided as a service to users of the VCFD.org website, and are provided “as is.” No warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, is made as to the accuracy, reliability, or correctness of any translations made from English into any other language. Some content (such as images, videos, Flash, etc.) may not be accurately translated due to the limitations of the translation software.

The official text is the English version of the website. Any discrepancies or differences created in the translation are not binding and have no legal effect for compliance or enforcement purposes. If any questions arise related to the accuracy of the information contained in the translated website, please refer to the English version of the website which is the official version.