It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames doubling in size every minute. The thick black toxic smoke begins to fill the room and surrounding areas, while the heat continues to rise from 100 degrees by the floor to 600 degrees toward the ceiling.
When every second matters and time and distance are both your enemy and friend, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) firefighters answer the call. In 2018, we responded to 7,782 emergency 911 calls, operating out of three fire stations. Each station is staffed by three firefighters, for a total of nine firefighters working at any given time.
We cover more than 250 square miles and a community population of nearly 128,000. However, we are not adequately staffed or equipped to serve our community’s needs. For a community our size, we should have six fire stations and 18 firefighters on duty 24/7.
One of the firefighters standing ready to respond is Capt. Steve Carter, who has been serving ECCFPD since it was formed in 2002. Hiring on as a firefighter, Carter quickly demonstrated his abilities and value to the fire service. He was promoted to engineer in 2004 and to captain in 2006.
Carter’s additional duties while on shift include managing the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) program for the fire district. SCBAs are the portable air packs each firefighter wears to enter into dangerous fire conditions.
He lives with his wife of 27 years in Oakley, where they raised four children now ages 22-26. “I’m fortunate to be working where I live,” he stated. “The opportunity to serve my community has been truly fulfilling.”
When asked about the best part of his career, he responded: “Seeing the little kids and their eyes light up when they see the fire engine.”
He offers these words of wisdom for those under his command. “Remember – we didn’t create the emergency we were called to. We are simply there to help people when they need us most.”
Carter says the fire district is at a crossroads. “Fire station closures have put a strain on our three remaining open fire stations as more fires and emergencies occur in our growing community,” he said. “It’s important for residents to take notice. People’s lives and property are at risk.
“We operate as one system and respond to calls based on resources available across our system,” Carter continued. “Additional firefighters and fire stations will improve district-wide service levels.”
Please join this conversation. The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District is your fire district. Your opinions matter. We are listening.
For more information, please visit www.eccfpd.org.