Frequently Asked Questions


Why does it take so many firefighters to put out a fire?

“Smoke Showing” is a short film, in two parts, that visually demonstrates the dangers and challenges faced by firefighters during a structural fire. This film serves to educate recruit firefighters, elected officials and the public in fire operations. “Smoke Showing” demonstrates the need for an aggressive interior attack coupled with adequate resources in order to save lives and reduce property loss. The film is opened by the cast of “Rescue Me.” It is dedicated to the proud service of Tom F. Brennan. Part One can be viewed here. Part Two is a separate film that can be accessed immediately after viewing Part One, or by following this link.

Why do so many fire engines respond, even when a fire seems small?

The standard response to a residential structure fire includes 4 engine companies, 2 ladder truck companies, and 1 Chief Officer. As soon as the first arriving engine determines that other resources are not needed, they are immediately released. The main goal of the Chico Fire Department is to save lives and property and this level of response is necessary to accomplish this goal over 95% of the time.

When can I burn my leaves, tree trimmings, or dry brush?

Residential burning within the City Limits is illegal at all times during the year. If you live within the unincorporated areas of Chico, burn permits are issued at Butte County Fire Stations. After obtaining a county permit, you must contact the Butte County Air Quality Management District at (530) 332-9407 to determine burn day status information. Please note that burning is only allowed on residential lots that are at least 0.90 acre in size.

(As an alternative to burning, the Butte County Fire Safe Council has a free chipping program for Butte County Residents.  For information, please call the Fire Safe Council at 877-0984 or click here: Chipper Program.)

How long does it take a fire engine to get to a fire or medical emergency after 9-1-1 has been called?

It usually takes between 4-5 minutes for the first fire engine to arrive on scene after a 9-1-1 call has been placed.

What can I do to protect my home from wildland fires?

To protect your home from wildfires you must create a safety zone or firebreak by reducing the amount of dead or dying fuel (vegetation) around your home. This does not necessarily mean all vegetation should be removed. In fact, having fire-resistant plants and trees around your home that are properly trimmed and well watered can serve as a firebreak.

Where can I get First Aid and/or CPR classes?

The American Red Cross , First Responder, and other private entities offer classes in first aid. For information, call (530) 891-0885, 897-6345, or check your phone book under First Aid Instruction.

What do firefighters do when they are not on calls fighting fires?

Training takes up a great deal of their time when they are not at an emergency. Firefighters are required to have at least 20 hours of emergency-related training each month. Firefighters also participate in fire safety inspections, public education programs, and drive the community to become familiar with the area to reduce response time during incidents. Firefighters must also check and maintain their equipment and clean and maintain their stations.

How do I go about drawing up an escape plan for my home?

The four basic steps to draw up an escape plan for your home includes: draw a floor-plan of your home; agree on a meeting place; practice your escape plan; and make your exit drill realistic. For a brochure on Exit Drills in the Home (EDITH), call the Chico Fire Department at (530) 897-3400.

A member of my family is disabled. What does he/she do during a fire?

Assure that you have a well-defined escape plan. Make sure that people who are confined to a wheelchair have immediate access to their wheelchair when an emergency occurs. It is usually better for disabled persons to have ready access to outside exits. Call the Chico Fire Department at (530) 897-3400 to make sure the person’s special needs are in the 9-1-1 dispatch system.

What is the best thing to do for a burn?

Cool a burn with cool, clean water. Do not use ointments, butter or other substances. For very minor burns contact a physician. For serious burns, dial 9-1-1 immediately.

When I go on vacation, should I let the fire department know?

You may contact the Chico Police Department at (530) 897-4900 when leaving for vacation. Leave an emergency number with your neighbors where you can be contacted in case the Chico Fire Department must respond to an emergency at your home.

What kind of fire extinguisher should I buy?

Homeowners should buy an extinguisher that can handle class A-B-C fires. They should be designed to extinguish fires that usually occur in homes; including wood, paper, flammable liquids and electrical fires. Call the Chico Fire Department at (530) 897-3400 for a fire extinguisher brochure.

Do I need to put a smoke detector in every room? How many do I need?

Smoke Detectors should be placed outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas such as dens, living rooms, or family rooms.

Why do I have to dial 9-1-1. Can’t I call my nearest fire station direct and save time?

The 9-1-1 emergency system is designed to save valuable seconds. When you dial 9-1-1, the system routes the police or fire unit that is closest to your home. Fire stations are not properly equipped to take emergency calls and calling the station directly actually wastes response time. Often there may be no firefighters at the station because of training or other emergencies.

What do I do with old gasoline/oil/paint that I don’t want?

Call Butte Regional Household Hazardous Waste at (866) 429-2288 to hear operating days and times for the disposal site.

How do I get a copy of a fire incident report?

Call the Chico Fire Department at (530) 897-3400 to make your request and inquire about the cost of the report.

Do you get cats out of trees/telephone poles/off of roofs?

No. Try opening a can of tuna or sardines and waiting for the cat to come down on its own.

How can I schedule a fire engine and firefighter to provide fire prevention or life safety information at my function?

Call the Chico Fire Department at (530) 897-3400 at least two weeks in advance to determine availability.

Who do I call about a fire extinguisher that doesn’t work or has a tag that is no longer valid?

Check the Yellow Pages under Fire Extinguishers for a listing of fire extinguisher contractors in the Chico area.

Who do I call to get sand bags?

The Chico Fire Department does not supply sand bags, sand or shovels. Check the Yellow Pages under Rock, or Sand and Gravel.

How do I schedule a fire inspection?

Please contact the Chico Fire Department at (530) 897-3400 to schedule an inspection.

What should I do during an earthquake?

If you are indoors, stay there. Get near a desk or table, or crouch down along an inside wall or hallway. If you are outdoors, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines. If you are driving, pull your car to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses or power lines. If you are in a high rise building, stay away from windows and outside walls. Do not use elevators. Do not use stairways while the building is shaking.

What do I do when I am driving and see approaching emergency vehicles displaying sirens and red lights?

Safely pull to the right and stop until the emergency vehicle has passed. Be aware that, at times, there may be more than one emergency vehicle that needs to pass.

Log in