County Fire Protection


Mission Statement

The mission of the Santa Cruz County Fire Department is to protect the life, property, and natural resources of its citizens and visitors through effective emergency response, preparedness, education, and prevention.

Department Overview

The County Fire Department is responsible for structural fire protection, first responder emergency medical services, technical rescue, public fire safety education, and fire marshal services including inspection services for unincorporated areas of the County that are not included in an autonomous fire district. Volunteer firefighters make up the bulk of County Fire Department staffing, with supplemental staffing from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

The County provides fire protection for Pajaro Dunes as a discretionary function through a contract with CAL FIRE. The fire station at Pajaro Dunes is financed by County Service Area 4 assessments. Though CSA 4 does not directly employ firefighters, workers compensation and volunteer firefighter stipends for training and shift assignments are funded through the budget.

Mutual aid and automatic aid agreements entered into between fire agencies throughout the County and the State allow firefighters to respond to emergencies across political boundaries.

Budget Summary

Department Budget Overview

Budget Summary of Changes

The County Fire budget is operationally status quo and includes funding from County Service Area (CSA) 48, Proposition 172 funding for the Fire Chiefs Association, and funding for Santa Cruz County Hazardous Materials Response Incidents Team. The budget includes lower capital costs reflecting the completion of engine and other previous year capital purchases. The County Fire contract with CalFire is currently under negotiation and represents a minimal change contract budgeted for maximum contract liability which will allow status quo services to the extent possible, which includes fire protection for CSA 4 Pajaro Dunes, while incorporating some known anticipated changes. CSA 4 is currently assessing rate options to close the funding gap needed to provide additional daily staffing at the Pajaro Dunes Fire Station.

Supplemental Budget Summary of Changes

The Supplemental Budget provides for a net decrease of $203,150 primarily related to anticipated contract adjustments for CALFIRE for the provision of fire protection services for CSAs 4 and 48.

Open the Services Overview or Operational Plan Objectives below for more details.

Department Services and Objectives

Total Expenses
-25 %
Total Revenues
3 %
General Fund Contribution
0 %
Other Fund Contributions
-63 %
Funded Staffing
Service Overview
Operational Plan Objectives
This service supports various department objectives


1 – Indicates change from FY 2021-22 Allowed Budget

2 – General Fund Contribution is the share of General County Revenues (primarily property tax and other local taxes) allocated to each department. Other funds that contribute to this budget are shown on the Budget Details page.

3 – Indicates change from FY 2021-22 Adjusted Funded Positions (including Board-approved mid-year changes as of April 1, 2022).

Budget Details

The charts below show department expenditures and revenues by division and service. Click on the pie charts to drill down for more detail. Complete detail can be found on the County's Transparency Portal.

Expenses by Service

Expenses and Revenues over time