Public Safety

Ranchita Fire Station Improved to Full-Time Staffing

As part of ongoing efforts to improve fire services to rural and historically underserved communities in the county, CAL FIRE and San Diego County Fire upgraded staffing at Ranchita Fire Station No. 58 to permanent full-time last month and are in the process of boosting paramedic services.

Since 2008, the County Fire Authority and CAL FIRE have reorganized fire services in the backcountry. At that time, they took 18 volunteer-run departments and unified them under the County agency.

“This addition of full-time, career staffing in the community of Ranchita is just the latest step that CAL FIRE and San Diego County Fire have taken to strengthen fire protection and emergency medical services in the backcountry of San Diego County,” said Tony Mecham, County Fire chief and CAL FIRE Unit Chief.

The community of Ranchita is located nine miles southwest of Borrego Springs and had previously been staffed by volunteer reserve firefighters.

The Montezuma Valley Volunteer Fire Department began providing volunteer firefighting services to the community in 1977. After more than 30 years of service, the all-volunteer department joined the San Diego County Fire Authority in 2008.

Ranchita Fire transitioned to its first professionally staffed shift in January with CAL FIRE/San Diego County Fire firefighters providing fire protection and emergency medical services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The station now provides Basic Life Support emergency services but is in the process of transitioning to Advanced Life Support-Paramedics emergency services, which is the highest level of pre-hospital care.  The transition is expected to be completed by late fall this year.

Ranchita firefighters may respond to an emergency incident with up to two fire vehicles, also called apparatus, to meet the unique needs of the community and the region. The station has three types of fire apparatus assigned for emergency response:

  • A Tactical Water Tender that carries 2,000 gallons of water and is outfitted with a 750 gallon-per-minute pump. Water Tender 58 is equipped with extrication equipment, rope rescue equipment, Basic Life Support equipment, and a hose complement for firefighting capabilities. This piece of equipment can respond to fires, traffic collisions, medical emergencies, and other incident types.
  • An all-wheel-drive Type 6 fire engine designed for rapid fire attack and various emergency needs. The smaller 4X4 design allows for a quick response and can access areas that larger apparatus cannot. This apparatus can respond to fires, traffic collisions, medical emergencies, and other incident types.
  • A multi-use ambulance equipped with heavy extrication and stabilization equipment as well as a full complement of rope rescue equipment. The transport capabilities are utilized to move a patient quickly from the scene of an emergency, or to an air ambulance landing point.  Rescue Ambulance 58 is also designed to operate on off-road incidents.

As of 2019, the Fire Authority covers 1,500 square miles of unincorporated San Diego County and is staffed by about 540 career firefighters. The County Fire Authority also supports 120 reserve firefighters through its unique training program that pairs seasoned firefighters with volunteers to develop their skills. To date, the County Fire Authority has strategically upgraded 15 of its fire stations to include Advanced Life Support Paramedic engines. It has also upgraded and standardized all fire apparatus, including replacing nearly all structural firefighting engines, and adding new wildland patrol engines, bulldozers and water tenders.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact