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Frequently Asked Questions

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What kind of agency is Humboldt Bay Fire Authority?

Humboldt Bay Fire is a joint powers authority, or JPA, between the Humboldt No.1 Fire Protection District and City of Eureka Fire Department.  With the formation of the JPA both agencies have consolidated from two independent of each other into one larger but more efficient fire department.

How is Humboldt Bay Fire governed?

Humboldt Bay Fire is governed by a four person Joint Powers Authority board made up of two members from the Eureka City Council and two members from the Humboldt Fire District Board of Directors.  The JPA board meets on a monthly basis to help guide and direct the Fire Authority.

Humboldt Bay Fire is listed as an "all risk" fire department.  What does that mean?

Humboldt Bay Fire is a full service fire department responding to all types of emergencies.  Humboldt Bay Fire handles everything from all types of fires, to emergency medical calls, to all types of rescue, to Hazardous Materials emergencies. 

Humboldt Bay Fire is listed as a "combination" fire department. What does that mean?

Humboldt Bay Fire has a career, paid staff of 50 firefighters on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The career personnel staff five fire stations with three firefighters per engine and a four person ladder truck company. The HBF career staff is supplemented by Volunteer Firefighters. The Volunteers respond to large incidents to help supplement the paid staff as well as augmenting the career staff through shifts at the fire stations. The Volunteers undergo much of the same training as the career staff and can perform many of the same tasks as the professionals. Our volunteers are a very valuable asset to the department!

Why are Humboldt Bay Fire's apparatus painted in three different color schemes?

As a consolidated department, each former agency had their own color scheme.  The Eureka Fire Department apparatus were a traditional red, while the Fire District's apparatus were yellow.  The new, Humboldt Bay Fire color scheme can be seen on our new ladder truck and on Engine 8114.

What kind of shifts do Humboldt Bay Firefighters work?

HBF firefighters work a "48/96" schedule. Firefighters work a 48 hour shift (2 days). The on duty crews eat and sleep at the fire stations during those shifts, responding to emergencies all the while. After the firefighter's 48 hour shift, they are off duty for 96 hours (4 days). There are three "platoons" of firefighters to cover these shifts. Emergencies happen on holidays too, so HFD firefighters are on duty Christmas, Thanksgiving, and for ALL holidays.

Why do I sometimes see HBF Firefighters shopping in local grocery stores?

Firefighters are like everyone else. We need to eat. We work all shift and must supply our own food. Sometimes we combine our money to purchase the food for our meals.

I would like to pursue a career with Humboldt Bay Fire. How do I go about that?

HBF conducts an open recruitment for entry level firefighters. Persons meeting the application requirements are invited to a three part testing process including:

  • Written Test
  • Physical Abilities (CPAT)
  • Oral Board Interview

Persons successfully passing the testing process are ranked according to score and are placed on a hiring list for a minimum 1 year with the ability to extend to two-years at the Fire Chief's discretion. All hirings are made from the list.

Why do fire engines show up at medical emergencies when a person has called for an ambulance?

All of HBF's career firefighters and most of HFD's volunteers are trained to the level of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Due to the location of HBF's fire stations, a fire engine with medically trained firefighters is able to get to the scene quicker than the ambulance. Firefighter/EMT's are able to perform basic life support, administer oxygen, and even use a defibrillator for patients in need.  Some of HBF's Firefighters are trained as Advanced Life Support Paramedics and can perform advanced life saving techniques in your living room such as I.V. therapy, administration of life saving drugs, and advanced airway techniques.

How come firefighters don't use a smaller vehicle to respond to medical emergencies like I've seen on TV?

Firefighters need to be prepared to respond to any emergency that arises at any time. If the firefighters are "in service" returning from a medical call, or are out conducting business and a fire call comes in, it expedites response to have the fire engine with them. Additionally, sometimes various special tools carried on the fire engine are needed at medical calls, etc. Keeping their "tool box on wheels" close at hand during travel enhances the HBF Firefighter's ability to respond to all different types of calls without delay.

I'm interested in CPR and First Aid training. Does your department do that?

HBF teaches two public CPR classes per month (four hours) and one public CPR/First Aid Class (eight hours) per month.  With prior scheduling, HBF instructors can accommodate classes for businesses or employers in and around our jurisdiction.

For more information, phone HBF's main office at (707)441-4000 Monday through Friday between 8 am and 5 pm.

How come on structure fires I sometimes see firefighters breaking windows, cutting holes in roofs, etc?

It may seem like firefighters are doing more damage than they are preventing at fires sometimes. However, the actions described have a purpose! During a structure fire, heat and toxic smoke are produced. By cutting holes in roofs and breaking windows, well trained firefighters can make the atmosphere inside the building more tenable for persons trapped inside and for fire crews attacking the fire. Well placed skillful ventilation can also help limit fire spread and smoke damage. This process is referred to as "ventilation."

How come I see fire trucks with full lights and sirens go through a red light at intersections and then, after they go through, they turn off their lights and slow down?

Sometimes several units are dispatched to the same incident. The first unit may have arrived on the scene, surveyed the situation and informed the dispatcher that the situation was under control. All other responding units were canceled and put back into service, ready to take another call.

Most likely, when you see an emergency vehicle go “Code 3” (lights and siren) through an intersection and then slow down and turn the emergency lights off, they have been canceled from the call they were going on.

How do I get a fire permit?

Call North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District (AQMD) at (707) 443-3093

Why do firefighters get upset when you drive over firehose?

Firefighters are very much concerned about running over firehose because the hose can be damaged and any firefighter at the end of a nozzle will have the water interrupted and possibly cause injury or death. (THE FIREHOSE IS THE LIFELINE OF A FIREFIGHTER WHEN FIGHTING A FIRE)


Fire Chief Bill Gillespie

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Humboldt Bay Fire
533 C St
Eureka Ca 95501
Phone (707) 441-4000
Fax (707) 441-4133