2016 marks the 10-year anniversary of The San Diego Foundation Center for Civic Engagement building at Liberty Station. In addition to being our headquarters and meeting space for thousands of San Diego nonprofits, 2508 Historic Decatur Road serves as a permanent home to seven other nonprofit organizations that help grow a vibrant San Diego. Learn more about them in this blog series.

Nonprofit Organization:
San Diego Regional Fire FoundationBuilding Tenant Since:

Located at the Center for Civic Engagement Because:
“The location is so convenient, being close to downtown and also the airport for visitors. There are a ton of restaurants and shops around. It’s great that I’m right down the hall from our Executive Director Joan Jones. And, I have a special connection to this place, raising $1 million to fund the building during my time as Board Chair of The San Diego Foundation.”
– Frank Ault, Board Chair, San Diego Regional Fire Foundation

San Diego County firefighters respond to nearly 600 emergencies every day.

A large number of those calls (more than 6,000 emergency calls each year) come from rural areas, which account for 70 percent of the county ranging from Fallbrook to Julian, all the way down to Campo near the Mexican border.

While fire stations receive most of their funding from property taxes, the problem facing the fire departments in San Diego’s “backcountry” is that there are not nearly as many resources available compared to urban communities with more taxpayers.

As a result, not enough taxes are collected to fully fund the 30 rural fire stations, all of which are full volunteer fire departments made up of about 400 community members.

Support for Rural Fire Stations

That’s where the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation steps in.

Established in 1989, the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation’s mission is to strengthen the system of fire and emergency services in San Diego County.

“Much of our focus is on the rural fire departments,” commented Frank. “With 80 percent of dispatch calls being medical in nature, often our first responders are the difference between life and death. This is especially true in San Diego’s backcountry where stations are so far from each other.”

Through charitable support, the Regional Fire Foundation puts the necessary tools, training and technology into the hands of firefighters. Since inception, the organization has granted more than $5 million to departments across the county for:

  • Four fire engines and two ambulances
  • Automatic vehicle locators and computer systems
  • Firefighter gear such as self-contained breathing apparatus, protecting clothing and fire shelters
  • Training: Fire academies, EMT, paramedic, driver training and hazardous waste

Support during the Wildfires

The Regional Fire Foundation also played a supporting role in the 2003 and 2007 wildfires.

After the Harbison Canyon Fire Station burned to the ground during the 2003 Cedar Fire, the foundation provided grant money to replace much of the equipment that was destroyed, and the station is now back in operation.

During the 2007 wildfires, the San Pasqual Volunteer Fire Department lost its fire engine when a bridge collapsed as firefighters were protecting homes. Following the incident, the foundation granted $250,000 to purchase a brand new fire truck.

Looking Ahead

Just as that of our region’s brave firefighters, the work of the Regional Fire Foundation never stops.

“Right now, we’re running a three-year campaign, trying to raise $250,000 to update 150 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for rural areas,” Ault highlighted.

You can help the Regional Fire Foundation make a difference by:

Learn More