San Jose Fire Department

The San José Fire Department (SJFD) provides firefighting, rescue and emergency medical services to the city of San Jose, California, United States. The San Jose Fire Department protects the third largest city in California (after Los Angeles and San Diego) and the tenth largest city in the nation.[1]

San Jose Fire Department (SJFD)
Operational area
Country United States
State California
County Santa Clara
City San Jose
Agency overview
EstablishedJanuary 27, 1854; 170 years ago (1854-01-27)
Annual calls105,102
Fire chiefRobert Sapien Jr.
EMS levelALS
Motto"Courtesy and Service with Pride"
Facilities and equipment
Airport crash3
Wildland7 - type 6
IAFF website



When fire limits were established, for the San Jose Common Council gathered sufficient funds to procure fire apparatus and equipment. On January 27, 1854, the Common Council approved Ordinance 239, formally recognizing San Jose Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 as a properly organized Fire Company and officially establishing the San Jose Fire Department. Joseph McGill was elected Foreman. This ordinance also mandated that the Foreman or Assistant Foremen should "wear a specific badge upon his or their hats as distinguishing his office."[2]

The San José Fire Department's Torrent Engine Company #2 was stationed at San Jose City Hall from 1869 to 1951, when the San Jose Central Fire Station opened.[3]



The San Jose Fire Department's jurisdiction covers San Jose’s incorporated city limits and unincorporated areas of the County of Santa Clara totaling approximately 180 square miles and 1.2 million residents.[4]

SJFD is the emergency service provider for a number of high-hazard occupancies, including an International Airport; a municipal airport; 7 major hospitals (including 3 trauma centers, and 7 emergency departments); the SAP Center, home of the NHL San Jose Sharks, (maximum occupancy 20,000); San Jose State University (the oldest public institution of higher education on the West Coast), student population of 31,906; three regional super malls; and over 108 high-rise structures.[5]

Call Volume


The San Jose Fire Department responds to more than 100,000 incidents annually.



The San Jose Fire Department is an “all risk” department meaning that it has the trained personnel and equipment to mitigate a variety of emergencies, and provides a wide array of emergency services and support services throughout the city. These include the following:[6]

Fire Suppression: Firefighters and fire apparatus that respond to extinguish fires of all types, including structure fires, vehicle fires, and vegetation fires and other fires.

Advanced Life Support (ALS): All San Jose Fire Engine Companies and Truck Companies have firefighters trained to provide specialized medical care (unless, of course, they are marked out BLS for the entire shift). All firefighters are Emergency Medical Technicians. Some are EMT-Paramedics, meaning they have the special training and skills to treat patients with drugs, to intubate patients who are not breathing, to gain intravenous access, to provide defibrillation to patients in cardiac arrest, and a variety of other medical services.

Urban Search and Rescue (USAR): Rescue teams are prepared to handle Confined Space, Low-Angle, High-Angle, Trench, Swift-water, Open water, Flood, Collapse and a variety of other technical rescues. Several department USAR members also serve on the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, Urban Search and Rescue California Task Force 3. The San Jose Fire Department USAR team has been certified as a Type I resource, the highest level of USAR capability.

• Hazardous Materials (HazMat): A Hazardous Incident Team is trained to the HazMat Specialist level to identify hazardous materials using technical test procedures and contain, neutralize or otherwise mitigate dangerous gases, liquids or solids. The San Jose Fire Department HazMat team has been certified as a Type I resource, the highest level of HazMat capability.

Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting: The department provides airplane crash fire suppression and rescue services by a specially equipped and trained crew based at the Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Fire Prevention: Firefighters and Fire Prevention Inspectors help ensure schools, businesses, and multi-occupancy dwellings follow fire safety codes and are safe for residents. While on emergency incidents such as medical calls, firefighters routinely check for smoke detectors and offer detectors or replace batteries.

• The Arson Unit: Responsible for investigating the origin and cause of fires. The unit is staffed by Investigators who are cross-trained as law enforcement officers with powers of arrest. Personnel in the unit are designated peace officers under California Penal Code Section 830.37(a).

• Public Education: Firefighters meet with the public to do home safety inspections, teach families about “Exit Drills in the Home,” teach fire safety techniques such as “Stop, Drop and Roll” in schools, and distribute fire or home safety literature. Some times the firefighters will do open houses at some of their fire stations.

• Emergency Preparedness: The Fire Department’s firefighters work with the public to encourage basic preparedness for routine or major catastrophes.



The San Jose Fire Department currently operates out of 34 fire stations located throughout the city, organized into six battalions.[7] Each battalion is commanded by a Battalion Chief.

Engines, Trucks, Rescue Medics and Battalion apparatus are staffed throughout the year. Some Wildland apparatus are not staffed during summer months. Under "Other", vans, utilities, reserve engines, air units, fire support units, rescue units, USAR trailers, and the USAR boat are unstaffed - personnel from Engines, Trucks and Rescue Medics staff those apparatus when they are needed to respond. Wildland engines are prefaced with a "6" to indicate they are Type VI engines based on the National Wildfire Coordinating Group rating criteria.

In November 2018, San Jose voters passed ballot measure T. This measure provides bond funds to support the building and repair of critical city infrastructure. Some of the projects planned for Measure T funds include construction of a new fire station in the Willow Glen neighborhood (Fire Station 37 at Lincoln Ave. and Curtner Ave.), rebuilding Fire Stations 8 and 23, and building two additional new stations. During calendar 2019, the city will adopt a new 5-year fire department infrastructure plan, which will include the timing for building and staffing those stations.



The San Jose Fire Department is organized into five bureaus of operations: the Bureau of Administrative Services (BAS), the Bureau of Field Operations (BFO), the Bureau of EMS and Training (BET), the Bureau of Support Services (BSS), and the Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP). The Fire Communications Division is staffed by non-sworn Fire Department dispatchers. These highly-skilled dispatchers meet or exceed the criteria required for the SJFD Communications Center to be nationally accredited.[8]

Battalion 1

Fire Station Number Address Engine Company Truck Company Rescue Medic Company Other Units
1 225 N. Market St. Engine 1 Truck 1 Command Van 1 & Battalion 1
3 98 Martha St. Engine 3 Rescue Medic 3
7 799 Laurel St. Engine 7
8 802 E. Santa Clara St. Engine 8
26 528 Tully Rd. Engine 26 Rescue Medic 26
30 454 Auzerais Ave. Engine 30 Truck 30 MED 30

Battalion 2

Fire Station Number Address Engine Company Truck Company Wildland Unit Other units
2 2949 Alum Rock Ave. Engine 2 Truck 2 Engine 302 Battalion 2
16 2001 S. King Rd. Engine 16 Truck 16
19 3292 Sierra Rd. Engine 19 Engine 619
21 2100 S. White Rd. Engine 21 Water Tender 21 Engine 221 (Reserve)
31 3100 Ruby Ave. Engine 31 Engine 631

Battalion 5

Fire Station Number Address Engine Company Truck Company or USAR Unit Rescue Medic Company Other Units
5 1380 N. 10th St. Engine 5 Battalion 5, Air Unit 5
20 1120 Coleman Ave. Engine 20A, 20B (ARFF Units) Rescue Medic 20 Reserve Engines 20C, 20D, and Rescue 620 (ARFF)
23 1771 Via Cinco de Mayo Engine 23
25 25 Wilson Way Engine 25
29 199 Innovation Dr. Engine 29 Truck 29 HIT 29A, 29B, Foam 29
34 1634 Las Plumas Ave. Engine 34 USAR 34A, 34B USAR-C, USAR-D, USAR-E, USAR Trailers, USAR Boat

Battalion 10

Fire Station Number Address Engine Company Truck Company Other units
4 710 Leigh Ave. Engine 4 Engine 204 (Reserve Unit)
6 1386 Cherry Ave. Engine 6 Fire Support Unit 3
10 511 S. Monroe St. Engine 10 Battalion 10
14 1201 San Tomas Aquino Rd. Engine 14 Truck 14
15 1248 S. Blaney Ave. Engine 15
37 2191 Lincoln Ave. Engine 37

Battalion 13

Fire Station Number Address Engine Company Truck Company Wildland Unit Other units
9 3410 Ross Ave. Engine 9 Truck 9 Engine 209 (Reserve Unit)
12 5912 Cahalan Ave. Engine 12 Engine 612
13 4380 Pearl Ave. Engine 13 Truck 13 Battalion 13, Utility 13, Engine 213 (Reserve)
17 5170 Coniston Way Engine 17 Water Tender 17 Reserve Engine 617
22 6461 Bose Ln. Engine 22
28 19911 McKean Rd. Engine 28 Engine 628

Battalion 35

Fire Station Number Address Engine Company Truck Company Wildland Unit Other units
11 2840 The Villages Pkwy. Engine 11
18 4430 S. Monterey Rd. Engine 18 Water Tender 18
24 3910 Silver Creek.Rd Engine 24 Engine 624
27 6027 San Ignacio Way Engine 27 Engine 627
35 135 Poughkeepsie Rd. Engine 35 Truck 35 Engine 335 Fire Support Unit 2

Early history


El Pueblo of San Jose (the Town of San Jose) was protected by volunteer firemen with the founding of the Pueblo in 1777. It wasn't until 1854 that these volunteer bucket brigades would transform into the official San Jose Fire Department, labeled the San Jose Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1.[9]

Originally consisting of volunteer firefighters in its infancy, the San Jose Fire Department (SJFD) was formally established by the city of San Jose on 27 January 1854, with the formation of the San Jose Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1.[10][11] The San Jose Fire Department has since been in service for over 165 years and is one of the oldest fire departments in the United States.[12]

Notable Fires

  • Chinatown Fire of 1887

The suspicious fire began in the Chinese quarter of San Jose. The cause of the fire was never determined. To this day, many believe that racial tensions and anti-Asian sentiment led to the fire being intentionally set. Chinatown's structures were constructed mainly of wood, and the fire devastated the entire neighborhood which burnt to the ground. Because of the 1887 fire, Chinatown never fully rebuilt itself and its absence from the city can still be seen to this day. A plaque memorializing the fire can be found on the Fairmont Hotel near Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose.

  • Santana Row Fire of 2002

The construction of Santana Row, an upscale shopping, housing, dining and entertainment complex, faced a major setback in 2002 when an 11-alarm fire (5-alarm within SJFD) went ablaze. The fire took several fire companies to put out, and the effort immediately became defensive as the San Jose firefighters turned their attention towards protecting surrounding homes and businesses from flying embers. The Santana Row Fire was the biggest fire in the history of the city.

  • Donner-Houghton House Fire

In the early morning of July 17, 2007, a suspicious fire consumed the historic landmark located at 156 E. St. John Street in San Jose which once housed early San Jose Mayor Sherman Houghton and his wife, Donner Party survivor Eliza Donner Houghton.[13] The San Jose Police Department was the first on the scene to evacuate squatters who took shelter in the historic house. The four-alarm fire left the historic house charred and irreparable, and the city decided to slowly demolish the building to ensure public safety and to also allow fire investigators to determine the cause of the incident. The city tried to salvage parts of the house in an effort to save as much history as possible.[14] After investigation, it was believed that the fire was started by squatters who lived in or around the vacant house. The squatters often started small fires to stay warm and to cook meals. Mattresses and chairs were found on the property, indicating their occupancy.[15] The city of San Jose faced criticism for allowing the historic house to be vacant for so long, allowing unwanted squatters to break in and seek quarters inside unsafe living conditions.

Fallen Firefighters

Firefighter Company Date of Death Cause of Death
Fireman Miles McDermott
Eureka Hose Company
26 September 1898 Collapsed Building
Fireman Paul Furrier
Hook & Ladder Company Number 1
18 April 1906 Collapsed Building
Chief Richard F. Brown
10 September 1910 Overturned Chief Buggy
Captain Fred W. Hambly
Chemical Company Number 1
21 January 1921 Smoke and Gas Inhalation
Fireman Peter Consolacio
Chemical Company Number 6
19 July 1925 Electrocution Accident
Chief Herman W. Hobson
7 October 1926 Pneumonia
Captain George Welch
Engine Company Number 2
18 September 1929 Heart Attack
Fireman Starr G. Hilton
Chemical Company Number 3
25 November 1931 Overturned Fire Rig
Fireman Donald E. Carrera
Engine Company Number 10
13 October 1963 Head Trauma
Fire Engineer William Anger
Engine Company Number 8
21 February 1981 Vehicle Collision
Captain Robert Sparks
Engine Company Number 28
17 March 1981 Heart Attack
Captain Timothy A. Strysko 31 May 2002 Cancer
Battalion Chief Michael Jonasson 4 May 2005 Cancer (Leukemia)
Firefighter Ed McClanhan Engine Company Number 26 25 May 2006 Cancer (Lung)
Firefighter Felix Medrano Engine Company Number 16 10 February 2010 Cancer
Firefighter Jack Salois 27 November 2010 Cancer
Captain Jose Martinez Engine Company Number 12 10 August 2012 Cancer


  1. ^ "Welcome to the San Jose Fire Department". San Jose CA. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Early Years". San Jose Fire Museum. Retrieved 2023-01-17.
  3. ^ April, Halberstadt. "Fire! San José Fire Department" (PDF). Sourisseau Academy San Jose State University. p. 6. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  4. ^ "City of San Jose Budget". San Jose CA. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Welcome to the San Jose Fire Department". San Jose CA. Archived from the original on 10 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  6. ^ "ServicesVideo". San Jose Fire Department. Archived from the original on 10 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Stations". San Jose Fire Department. Archived from the original on 17 March 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Bureaus". San Jose Fire Department. Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  9. ^ Fire History, "Source 4 Archived 2008-12-02 at the Wayback Machine", December 1, 2010
  10. ^ San Jose Fire Museum, "Source 1 Archived 2023-02-13 at the Wayback Machine", November 22, 2010
  11. ^ Bay Area Backroads, "Source 2 Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine", November 22, 2010
  12. ^ San Jose Fire Department, "Source 3 Archived 2012-07-17 at the Wayback Machine", November 22, 2010
  13. ^ Wikimapia Allen Apartments, "Source 5 Archived 2019-02-24 at the Wayback Machine", December 2, 2010
  14. ^ San Jose Development News, "Source 6 Archived 2012-03-19 at the Wayback Machine", December 2, 2010
  15. ^, "Source 7 Archived 2023-04-08 at the Wayback Machine", December 2, 2010