The unincorporated town of Kensington began a volunteer fire department in 1928. Twenty-four years later, the Kensington Fire Protection District (formed in 1937) hired a staff of professional firefighters under the supervision of a fire chief. The District is organized under the State's Health & Safety Code Section 13800, commonly known as the Bergeson Fire District Law. In 1995, the District entered into a contract with the City of El Cerrito whereby El Cerrito would provide all fire prevention, fire suppression and emergency services within Kensington for an annual fee (www.el-cerrito.org/index.aspx?nid=133). As a result, the District's only current employees are a part-time General Manager and Executive Assistant. Salary information for the District can be found at www.publicpay.ca.gov.
The early fire department was housed in a small, quaint English country-style building next to the Chevron Oil gas station on the Arlington. The current public safety building, owned by the District, was constructed in 1970 and substantially renovated in 1999 and 2004.
The District owns two fire engines, one specifically engineered for the steep, narrow streets of Kensington and the other a "Type III" or wildland engine for use during high fire season.
In recent years the District embarked on a series of water system improvements by contract with the East Bay Municipal Utility District to enhance the provision of water along the wildland interface and to optimize the placement of hydrants throughout the community.
The District initiated paramedic service in 2001. It offers the first engine-based Advanced Life Support service in West Contra Costa County, bringing medications and equipment to a patient's side in under 5 minutes on average.
The District is able to provide a timely and appropriate level of response by active participation with other West Contra Costa County fire agencies in automatic response agreements that use the combined resources of all agencies to serve the area irrespective of jurisdictional lines.
The District operates a Community Emergency Response Team Training (CERT) program under the direction of Battalion Chief David Gibson. For more information on CERT, see our "CERT Training" tab or www.el-cerrito.org/index.aspx?nid=133.
Funding for District expenses is provided by property tax revenues as well as a special tax approved by the voters in 1980.