The Bell Springs Volunteer Fire Department is dedicated to protecting our neighborhood from wildland fire and other emergencies. We exist by the energy and volunteer efforts of our members, the donations of equipment by local fire agencies, and the contributions and support of our community members. We are lucky to have Jeff Daniels who is a retired Calfire Captain as our chief. Jeff has trained us and guided us to become an effective fire-fighting force.
Our neighborhood is a remote rural area which is an hour away from a stoplight and 30 minutes away from the nearest fire station. We are in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) and so are served by Calfire out of Laytonville. Although we are outside of the Laytonville Fire District, Long Valley Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance still answer calls in our area. Both Laytonville and Calfire do a great job and are very dedicated but they cover a huge area and are understaffed and underfunded. When there are large fires elsewhere in the state, they must send resources to fight those fires so that leaves our area unprotected. When they respond to fires on Bell Springs Road, the long climb to the top of the ridge with full trucks takes 30 minutes which is a long time to allow a fire to get going. Likewise you never know when airplanes and helicopters are available and it takes some time for them to scramble and get here from Willits or Ukiah. So our local crew is focused on getting to a fire quickly and putting it out or at least keeping it small until more resources arrive.
When the lightning fires of June 2008 struck all over Northern California, firefighting resources were stretched beyond their limit. Four fires started in the Bell Springs Road area. One in a snag by the road was put out by Calfire helicopter. One near the Humboldt border was put out by Calfire and Palo Verde VFD. One on the Lundblade Ranch was contained and watched over by Jeff Daniels and our crew of neighbors until Calfire arrived three days later. One on Red Mountain was very remote and smoldered for three days until the wind came up one night and the fire took off across Red Mountain and burned for a month and threatened Leggett and Bell Springs Road. Over 8000 acres burned. That showed what can happen when a fire is not fought when it is small. That was when neighbors joined together and got serious about getting equipment and training and organizing ourselves to protect the neighborhood from wildfires.
Since then we have purchased a surplus fire truck from Calfire and equipped three one-ton pickups with tanks, pumps, hose, and hand tools. We received donations of surplus gear from Laytonville, Covelo, Willits, and Calfire so that we could provide all trained volunteers with nomex suits, web gear, fire shelters, helmets, goggles, and hand tools. We have over a dozen fire responders and have good turnouts for trainings and fire calls. We continue to train and work on communication and the ability to quickly respond to any incident in our neighborhood.
We are an open volunteer organization and welcome anyone in the neighborhood to join us. If you are in reasonably good shape and willing to work hard in tough conditions, you are welcome to join our fire trainings and become a part of our fire crew. If you don't want to fight fire directly, there are plenty of jobs that need doing. Maintaining equipment, becoming a dispatcher, helping fundraising are all needed. See the page on How to Help the Fire Crew. Also look at our Wish List to see if you can provide anything listed. Come back here often and look for news and events. bellsprings.net aims to strengthen our community by providing an online place to share and to support our Fire Crew.
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