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Fire Chief John Hawkins' Message

We appreciate you viewing the CAL FIRE / Riverside County Fire Department and Riverside County Office of Emergency Services (OES) web site. We hope it provides you a thorough view of your fire department and office of emergency services. We also hope you recognize our efforts to provide cost and operationally effective emergency preparedness and response to the incidents threatening our communities. 


The Riverside County Fire Department and Riverside County Office of Emergency Services benefit from a strong integrated, cooperative, regional fire protection system. The system is strong because of the additive organizational elements provided by the State, County, partner cities, and community services district. Many “large-fire after-action reports” have recommended an integrated system such as ours however; few other areas enjoy these benefits. We are very proud of the support provided by all of our elected and appointed officials. You are the benefactors of their support.


The Fire Department originated in the early 1930’s and evolved into an integrated system in 1946. CAL FIRE has been a major component from the beginning. Partner cities began joining the department in 1978. We now enjoy the partnership of 20 cities and the Rubidoux Community Services District. During the last few years, the communities of Wildomar, Menifee, Eastvale, and Jurupa Valley chose to incorporate and the City of Norco joined our cooperative system.


We operate 97 fire stations that serve unincorporated communities and cities throughout the 7,206 square miles of Riverside County. From those fire stations, the Fire Department provides full service, municipal and wildland fire protection, pre-hospital emergency medical response by paramedics and EMT’s, technical rescue services and response to hazardous materials discharges. About 82% of the nearly 400 incidents we respond to on average each day are medical emergencies and about 10% are fires. The other 8% of incidents include technical rescues/public service assistance (6%) and hazardous materials incidents (2%). The Fire Department maintains two highly-trained hazardous materials response teams. Our two hazardous materials teams are located near the communities of Winchester and North Bermuda Dunes. They respond county-wide to any hazardous materials discharge including explosives, poisons, environmentally destructive elements, and weapons of destruction emergencies.


Firefighters face serious hazards, often risking their lives.  Whether human-initiated or as the result of some negligent or accidental activity; firefighters seldom know what they will face arriving at an emergency.  Today's society seems more violent probably due to illegal drugs and alcohol abuse.  As a result, people under the influence of various substances needing medical assistance are combative or resistant to that assistance.  At other emergencies, a negligent or accidental act causes a fire, explosion or both.  Victims are found calling for and desperately needing help.  Our firefighters are trained to calmly react and mitigate such emerging incidents.


The Fire Department has five core values: Leadership, Competence, Integrity, Safety, and Customer Service. Firefighters must provide leadership at every incident; must be highly competent to manage diverse emergencies during the worst of compressed time frames; must be honest and never breach their oath of integrity; must be safe and make it home to their families; and must Be Nice, which is the simplest definition of Customer Service. If any of our fire companies serve you either on an emergent or routine basis, I expect they will treat you well and earn your trust and respect.


During these trying economic times the Fire Department faces many challenges. Revenues do not even closely match needed expenditures, while the call for service has increased. Public expectations rightfully remain high for prompt and effective response to emergencies. Our elected and appointed officials support maintaining high levels of public safety response capability. We are committed to keeping fire stations open and retaining our fire company staffing levels to best serve the public.


Probably the greatest natural threats to Riverside County are from earthquakes, fires, and pandemic illnesses. Please stay attuned to information provided by the Riverside County Office of Emergency Services and be prepared for the impacts we could face from a catastrophic earthquake or other emergency. The Golden Guardian 2008 earthquake scenario for a Magnitude 7.7 earthquake along the San Andreas Fault predicted major disruption to our transportation corridors, building collapses, and many damaging fires. A major earthquake could displace Interstate 10 thirty-five (35) feet, sever water lines or canals, sever under and above ground electrical transmission and distribution lines, and disrupt our communication system. Are you prepared not to live the expected “California life style” for a week, two weeks, or even six weeks? Do you have adequate back-up water supplies, food, medications, or any of the other supplies you may need? I hope every Southern California resident seriously considers the potential consequences and prepares for a catastrophic event. The experts state that it is not a matter of if, but a genuine matter of when the destructive event occurs. Please get ready; the readiness choice is yours!


As your time allows, please visit your neighborhood fire station. Get to know your firefighters and realize their commitment to protect you and your property. Every day our firefighters amaze me with their operational competence and commitment to customer service. I am also amazed by all of our support personnel without whom, response by our front line firefighters would be nearly impossible. Again, thank you for viewing our web site. As I frequently close with our firefighters - take care, be safe, have fun, and live the California dream.




John R. Hawkins

Fire Chief