Butte County Fire Department is the largest fire department north of Sacramento, California to Eugene, Oregon. We are a combination of career and citizen volunteer firefighters.

Our Mission: "To provide professional services to protect lives, property, and environment to those residing, working or traveling with in the unincorporated areas of Butte County, the cities of Biggs and Gridley and the Town of Paradise."

Emergency Command Center Operations

Staff Depth

The Butte ECC staff includes five Fire Captains, seven Communication Operators, and one Battalion Chief. Current winter staffing is three personnel during the day and one at night. During summer months, the minimum day time staffing is four personnel. The ECC Duty Officer may add additional staffing as needed. 

Depth of qualified personnel is an important component to our command and control system. During normal business hours, Monday through Friday, the Butte ECC typically has an additional from four to six trained ECC personnel (made up of on site staff, which allows staffing of key command center positions within minutes). This has proven extremely valuable during incidents like the U-2 spy plane crash in North Oroville (1996) the Hwy 149/Hwy 70 overpass collapse and the Butte County Lightning Complex of 2008 that burned nearly 65,000 acres. 

Other complex incidents handled by the BTU ECC have included civil unrest situations, major transportation system accidents with significant hazardous material problems, and storm related emergencies. Each of these incidents pose specific command and control problems that our ECC is ready to meet and support. 

The Butte ECC is also the OES Operational Area mutual aid coordination center for Butte County. This establishes responsibility for coordinating all of the fire mutual aid requests for all jurisdictions within Butte County. This also gives the Butte ECC the authority to directly obtain resources from all neighboring counties including Yuba, Sutter, Plumas, Glenn, Colusa, Tehama, and Lassen. 

Another critical pre-arrival care function is Emergency Medical Dispatching or EMD. EMD consists of pre-arrival emergency medical instruction given to 9-1-1 callers by the dispatchers to render emergency care before arrival of fire engines and the ambulance. The CAL FIRE/BCFD is the only fire department in Butte County that provides this service. 


There are five readiness levels ranging from normal day to day operations with three personnel, to heavy staffing levels that may require eight to twelve personnel or more, depending on conditions. (See 1997 BTU ECC Readiness Staffing Level For IA and Expanded Operations). These readiness levels allow us to staff seven radio positions and five call taking positions in our Command Center. 

The Butte ECC maintains a high level of system readiness. This high readiness level requires constant training, evaluation, and upgrading of various ECC tools and systems. All of our assigned personnel must complete four weeks of formal command center operations training at the CAL FIRE Fire Academy in Ione, CA.

Telephone System - 911 System

 The Butte ECC is a secondary Public Service Answering Point (PSAP) which means, all 911 calls are first answered by the primary PSAP, which is the jurisdictional law enforcement agency. If the call is for fire rescue, medical or other non law enforcement emergencies/calls for service, the caller is immediately transferred to the Butte ECC. 

The Butte ECC currently processes an average 43 incidents per day or approximately 16,000 incidents per year. Incidents occur 24 hours per day with most incidents occurring between 12 AM (noon) and 12 PM (midnight). 

Radio Practices

Within 30 seconds of the receipt of the 911 call, the ECC will transmit three alert tones and announce the community, type of incident, and address. This is known as the "pre-announcement". The pre-announcement is a key component of our dispatch operation. Upon receiving the pre-announcement, resources are expected to don appropriate personnel protective equipment and respond if the incident is within their planned response level area based on the standard response for the specific type of incident, ie fire, hazmat, medical, etc. 

After the pre-announcement station quick calls are selected and resources dispatched. The ECC then completes a response check back, names the incident and assigns a tactical frequency.

If multiple calls are received, those incidents are pre-announced and dispatched in order of priority. Medicals in order of seriousness, rescues, fires, and other incidents all have an assigned priority. 


CAL FIRE/Butte County Fire Department responded to and/or processed 15,563 emergencies and calls for service in 2008. More than two thirds of those calls were for emergencies such as traffic collisions, rescues and medical aids. The total number of all types of fires equaled 789 with 309 of those being for wildland fires. There were 56 hazardous materials responses involving chemicals or suspected chemicals. Other responses, such as general assists to the public, fireworks complaints, false alarms, assists to other agencies, downed power lines, and law enforcement operations totaled 2,451. 

In addition to fire engine responses, the department’s Emergency Command Center (ECC) performed 93 “Emergency Medical Dispatch” calls. These are calls where, prior to the arrival of the fire engine and ambulance, trained dispatchers give life saving instructions to the 9-1-1 caller in instances such as sever bleeding, heart attacks, choking and childbirth.

Expanding Operations

Large, complex incidents are moved from the primary dispatch frequency to a dedicated command support net which reduces traffic on the primary dispatch frequency. The Butte ECC has a total of five command / support nets to choose from. All resources arriving at incidents are required to switch to a tactical frequency. These frequencies allow resources on several different incidents to operate simultaneously without interfering with one another. 

The Butte ECC processes nearly 16,000 emergency/calls for services each year.

 Contact Fire

Butte County Fire

In an Emergency
Dial 9-1-1
Arson Hotline

Phone:    530.538.7111
Fax:        530.538.7401

 Locations and Hours

Butte County Fire
176 Nelson Avenue
Oroville CA, 95965

Office Hours
Monday to Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm
Excludes Holidays



For current incidents call
Butte County Fire

If you reach a recording, there may be no current incidents

Visit Statewide Fire Incidents


Butte County Air Quality Management Department

View Burn Day Status


Butte County Fire CALFIRE

Darren Read, Fire Chief  
David Hawks, Assistant Chief, North Division 
Jamie Norton, Assistant Chief, South Division 
John Messina, Assistant Chief, Administration

Garrett Sjolund, Assistant Chief, BFC

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