Who’s Going to Respond to Hwy 36 After Post Mountain Fire Department Closes?

Post Mountain Fire Dept

Post Mountain Volunteer Fire Department [Photo provided by Gary Carpenter]

Post Mountain Volunteer Fire Department disbanded earlier this month. “We just don’t have people,” explained Gary Carpenter who has been with that fire department either as a responder or as part of a group overseeing it for 15 years.

Carpenter reached out to us because he wanted drivers along Hwy 36 and residents who live in the area to know that there could be long delays in emergency medical services (EMS) and crews responding to accidents, fires, and medical calls. Post Mountain VFD’s former area of responsibility stretched along  State Route 36 roughly from the top of South Fork Mountain about 10 miles east of Mad River to the Shasta County line.

“Tell people to be careful,” he explained. “They got a long wait for EMS and fire probably an hour…I…want people driving 36 to know if they slide off that icy road into a ditch, it is going to be a long time before someone gets to them.”

Carpenter said that the problem isn’t money. The department which started in 1976 gets money from a fee levied on those in their service area.

“Our fire department is well funded…We got plenty of nice equipment,” Carpenter said. Then he repeated, “We just don’t have any people.”

In the remote areas surrounding Hwy 36, volunteer fire crews provide much-needed assistance for more than just fires. Carpenter described responding to vehicle accidents, doing rescue missions, covering medical needs, and, of course, putting out fires.

The first that many in the community knew that the Post Mountain VFD was no longer in service was on February 13. Carpenter described listening on the scanner as the report of a hash lab exploding came from near Wildwood, a small town in Trinity County not far from Hwy 36.

As flames consumed the structure and the suspects reportedly fled, “Dispatch paged Post Mountain Fire to respond,” Carpenter explained. But then, he said, his department that had been responding to scratchy radio transmissions, pages, and phone calls for 42 years was still. No one picked up their radio and reported into dispatch.

Instead, into the silent void, the Trinity County Sheriff’s Department spoke over the radio to dispatch saying that Post Mountain Fire Department was no longer functioning. Another fire department, the Hayfork Volunteer Fire Department had to stretch its area of responsibility and cover the explosion and resulting fire.

Carpenter said it is possible that the department could reopen. “It depends on if we can get some volunteers up for training,” he explained.

He then added, “It is tough. People don’t have the volunteer mentality anymore. They just don’t want to get involved.”

And, he said, it isn’t just the fire department that is affected. Part of his responsibilities is to gather money to work on community roads in the Post Mountain area. “Normally, we get $8,000 to $10,000 donated,” he said. This year was different.

“I sent out 1010 postcards asking for money for the road department,” he explained. “We asked for $50. We got back 49 responses.” They raised a little over $3000.

Carpenter wants to think that people will step up to help keep the fire department open but even then it will take time to get volunteers trained. “Until the Forest Service staffs Forest Glen later this spring,” he explained. “There is nobody else out here. Hayfork will help out but they can’t always respond.”

  • Laytonville Rock


  • Always drive 36 like your life depends on it. It very well could.

  • Concerned Trinity County Resident

    This is a sad situation and also sadly, it is not just this fire department; many of the small rural volunteer fire departments are facing this situation. It seems the population we now have is not into helping others in their time of need.

  • Time for all the growers out there to give back to the community

    • We used to…
      Lived with a VFD truck in my driveway for years until the firehouse was built. Might be a generational thing – the older homesteaders – well, we came up to be with The Land, create communities. We’re too old, some of us, too dented by life, to turn out any more. The new guys have come from a different generation with different expectations. Seems they think it will be delivered day after tomorrow, what ever they want, and all they need to do is go online, make the call and then wait.
      But that’s not the way things happen in the country.
      I agree that they need to take some Responsibility for their environment.
      And I am sad to see a VFD go down.

    • There is no “community”, or very little. It is a lost concept. Every person for him/her self.
      Good luck.

  • Don’t know how true it is but a volunteer once told me they could recruit more applicants if the State would ease up on the ridiculous amount of training and certification required just to put on the turnouts for the first time.

    • I went into Douglas City and Hayfork FD’s to volunteer after my experiences with the 2015 trinity lightning fires.

      My neighbors and I held a line for 8 or so days before calfire had resources for my location. Houses lived for it.

      After going in to the local stations to learn more, and talking to some elders, I realized I was not interested in all the beurocracy of being in an FD.

      Don’t mean I can’t help if possible, I just can’t officially help.

    • When fighting fires NO amount of training is too much!!! It’s not just your ass that needs covered but also those who you are attempting to assist as well!!!

      • Dan, The flip side of your comment is this:

        During mop-ups with my 2015 fire there was a big flare up that could have started up another wild-fire as it was just over any of “lines”.

        I was still unofficially heavily involved, and so I ended up being at the flare up, and then a calfire engine comes along.

        I was amazed that the engine leader wouldn’t operate the pump for water because her, and the two she was with, weren’t classified as “engineers.”

        Furthermore she and team couldn’t cut some trees to make a line, because no one was a “feller”.

        Well I was no feller or engineer to them, but I watched them watch me cut the trees down and establish the line. I was ready to get my pump and hose ready for work but the tree felling solved the problem.

        Later, a C feller arrived. I talked with him to make sure I didn’t make his job harder, he was pleased with my efforts and probably didn’t need to do much after it.

        Anyhow, everything is reasonabe ’till it isnt.

    • This is true, it is what killed post mt vfd

    • I can see it both ways. Back in the day you could go to the VFD, they would hand you your gear and you would be riding on the engine trial by fire. But realistically, what good is an untrained Firefighter, albeit well intentioned, but lacking any medical or fire training? That is a huge liabliity, 90% of the calls are medical, so either you have compentent volunteers or the state is shutting them down. Then theres gear, at 3500$ at least for 1 set of bunker gear that only OSHA allows to last for 10 years. So if you aren’t getting lots of grant money or from your district, it is hard to stay a VFD in California these days. It’s too bad, a great program, but rural fire departments need young men/women to be the backbone while Mr. Carpenter leads the way, eventually passing the torch.

  • I believe CalFire responds to accidents all along Hwy36, from Fortuna to Red Bluff. But possible those are outstations which are closed during the winter months.

    • There are Cal Fire stations at Bridgeville, Hayfork, and Rosewood. I don’t know if they are staffed all year though. https://www.firedepartment.net/nearest-fire-department#location=Trinity+County%2C+CA%26zoom=10

      • The one in Bridgeville is NOT staffed during the Winter!!! I’ve lived here 30 years & can never recall a time when it was staffed during Winter!!! I know nothing about Hayfork or Rosewood but I do know about Bridgeville!!!

        • The one in Bridgeville is not staffed winter or summer. In the past you be commented it was staffed, but as someone who drives past it alot, I have yet seen it staffed. A couple of cars and that’s it

          • This is incorrect information you post about Cal Fire Bridgeville station not being open during fire season which is typically may-october. Cleary you haven’t been by to.meet your friendly local CalFire firefighters many of whom actually are from Humboldt county. One the Captains who is assigned there for 2018 has worked for CalFire since the 80’s and has lived here that entire time. Go meet Mark. Just because you drive by and it seems TO YOU no one is there doesn’t mean no one is. Please get your facts straight

    • Dracos, They do not. Some of 36 is covered by Forest Service Fire, some by VFD depts..

  • People, people, people. Your community needs you!
    Is this what we have become?

  • Cal fire nearest engine this time of year is weaverville which is about 50 miles from 36.
    FYI in December 2017there where 14 line of duty deaths to firefighters in this country and 9 so far this year.i receive an email every time a firefighter dies. A lot are heart attacks.

  • Platina had a VFD also but it closed because no one around could pass the drug test to drive the truck. Call trans does keep the depot at platina staffed.

    Also for those who drive 36 platina store is now closed for Good. R-wild is the only store open but does not have fuel. Does have good free internet if you wish to call your mother or AAA to bring you gas.

  • Amimissingsomething

    Until about 1980 the forestry dept had staffing at Forest Glen station. Only about 6-8 miles from Post Mtn rd. Put some of the people watching winter go by from other stations sit in Forest Glen and be available for rescue and fire. Thank you USFS

    • Trump cut USFS Fire funding first thing. They cant afford to keep Forest Glen open sitting in the snow year round. It opens spring to fall.

      • As the old saw has it, the President proposes but Congress disposes. There were no budget cuts. There was a hiring freeze for awhile but, if you remember the recent government non-closing, we are without a current budget or spending authorization. We in coast mode. Of course the out of power party always calls not getting the increase in money they wanted a budget cut. They never had it, were never likely to get it yet it sounds usefully ominous to rant about drastic non cutting in the budget.


        “While Trump released a budget proposal last year that also called for increased defense spending and cuts to other departments, Congress did not act on those recommendations.”

        So few people seem to understand how their own government works. All they know is what they read on the internet.

  • Trying to get the new generations to volunteer is next to impossible. Sadly, the older generation is getting to old to go on calls or staff dispatching. Many of the older volunteers have been doing it since the mid 1970s. It’s time for the next generation too step up, or the next time they need EMS or fire, there won’t be anyone to respond.

  • I started with cal div forestry in 1962 before nomex and fire shelters, the first training I received was watching the movie “red skyies of Montana ” where a trapped crew dug holes to lie in until fire passed. I’m 72 now and can’t run uphill pullin hose anymore, so I drive the water tender

  • Post Mountain Fire Fighter

    I live there. I was one of the two active members of the fire department before it recently disbanded. As few as we are, there are still members of the community who would like to serve the community as firefighters and first responders. But we can’t do it alone!
    If you or anyone you know lives in the general response area for the Post Mountain Fire Department and would possibly be able to act as a firefighter or medical first responder, please encourage them to speak with us. Male, female, young, old, Hmong or not, we don’t care, we just need good people who truly want to help and can invest some time into their community. To contact our department, come to a board meeting, they are the second Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. at the Post Mountain Community Fire Department and Community Hall.

  • I remember when the Hmong were up there fighting the fire with garden hoses while wearing flip flops. Then, the state water discharge board sent out 800+ letters telling the Pines they were all going to be fined and possibly arrested. So, they left. The boost in Hayfork’s economy the Hmong brought was palpable. Now, they are gone. The Wine and Water Festival in Coffe Creek is gone. The Peddlers Fair in Lewiston is gone. The Trinity Fairgrounds music series is gone. The Hayfork Garage is closed. The Red Bud Restaurant is closed. Irene’s cafe is closed. Very possible the Hayfork High School will close soon; down to 70 kids. The days of happy, young, strong retirees volunteering for their little mountain Fire Department are gone. The Boomers sucked all the money out of America and left the rest of us with low pay jobs and no hope of a retirement. No retirement, no volunteers.

    Trinity County has set ridiculous rules for the cannabis industry, the “old timers” showed up in mass at the Board of Supervisors to trash the cannabis and the growers and now you see what we get. They might as well divide Trinity between Shasta, Siskiyou and Humboldt. Then Trinity will be gone.

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