Costa Mesa Fire Chief Earns State’s Top Distinction

Fire Chief Dan Stefano received a distinguished career honor this week, as he became the 32nd Certified Fire Chief in California.

Stefano was presented the award at the Dec. 6 City Council Meeting by Chief Mike Richwine, California’s Acting State Fire Marshal, which also included receiving a set of Certified Fire Chief collar brass.

Candidates are thoroughly vetted through the Office of the State Fire Marshal and must successfully pass a rigorous set of comprehensive performance and professional standards evaluations by a Peer Assessment Committee.  The final phase includes an extensive, half-day interactive assessment and interview by a panel of professionals including an elected official, a Certified Fire Chief, and the State Fire Marshal.

Among the qualifications required to merit the award, candidates must demonstrate  significant leadership and Chief Officer experience, technical and operational expertise, higher education and advanced training, community involvement, professional organization affiliations and recommendations from other fire chiefs and non-fire service professionals.

To learn more about this award click here.

“I am truly honored and humbled to become the 32nd Certified Fire Chief in California,” Chief Stefano said. “This recognition is just a small example of much greater things that the men and women of the Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue Department are accomplishing and demonstrating everyday in professionally serving the community through our core values of respect, integrity, and compassion.”

The Fire Chief certification was established by the State Board of Fire Services in the 1990’s as the capstone for the State’s professional certification and qualification system. Today, there are over 900 fire departments in the state with fire chiefs eligible to complete the process.

Chinese city leaders visit Costa Mesa to learn more about CERT

City and Fire Department leaders were pleased this week to host a contingent of Chinese government leaders from the city of Chengdu, who visited Costa Mesa as part of a multi-week, fact-finding mission on the best practices of Community Emergency Response Teams or CERT.

Brenda Emrick, the city’s CERT manager who has visited Chengdu several times last year for training purposes, said the group was in the United States on a study tour sponsored by The Asia Foundation. 

Welcoming the group to Costa Mesa along with Emrick was Mayor Steve Mensinger, CEO Tom Hatch, Police Chief Rob Sharpnack and CERT leaders from the State of California and the cities of Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Downey and Irvine as well as members of The Asia Foundation.

Chen Liuting, who represented The Asia Foundation, said the visitors from Chengdu were all emergency managers who had prior training from the Federal Emergency Management Association. She said the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan Province of China has a population of 13 million people.

“It is a big city with lots of responsibilities,” she said. “That’s why there are here to learn more about CERT.”

The past two weeks the group has been studying at the University of Maryland, before winding up in Costa Mesa on Tuesday and Wednesday. During their visit to Costa Mesa, the group got a tour of the city’s Emergency Operations Center as well as a visit to Orange Coast College to learn about campus-based CERT.

The trip also included workplace seminar as well as a visit to South Coast Plaza for lunch at Lawry’s and dinner at Maggiano’s.





Fire Station No. 1 Reconstruction project going out for bids

The Fire Station Reconstruction Project has been advertised for construction bids. The bid opening is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 24. The Public Services Department has been working closely with the Fire Department and WLC Architects for more than a year to develop construction documents for this reconstruction.

The scope of work includes demolition of the existing station, and construction of a new, 12,000-square-foot station equipped with a three-bay and double-deep apparatus room, dorm rooms, administrative offices, kitchen, dining room, day room, physical training room, EMS training room, mechanic shop area, and emergency medical supply room. Additional site features include an emergency generator, fuel station, hose drying tower, and a City emergency supply storage unit.

Construction will commence shortly after the holidays in the first quarter of 2017.

Costa Mesa public safety staff honored at annual chamber barbecue lunch

Costa Mesa’s public safety employees were treated to a free lunchtime barbecue at the OC Fair & Event Center care of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce that included live music and performances from the Orange Coast College cheerleaders.

About 200 people attended this year’s Public Safety Recognition Barbecue on Thursday Oct. 8, including 90 police, fire and dispatch personnel.

Guests were served up dishes of chicken, tri-tip steak, mashed potatoes, vegetables and salad.

The community and civic leaders in attendance which included City Council Members Katrina Foley and Sandy Genis, OC Fair & Event Center CEO Kathy Kramer, Orange Coast College President Dennis Harkins, Costa Mesa Police Chief Rob Sharpnack and Fire Chief Dan Stefano.

“It was an honor to attend today’s Public Safety Recognition Barbecue,” Chief Sharpnack said. “On behalf of the CMPD staff, I want to thank the Chamber of Commerce for their generosity and others in attendance for their support of public safety personnel. We are proud to serve the Chamber of Commerce membership and look forward to collaborating in the future to make Costa Mesa an even greater city in which to live, work, and visit.”

Chamber of Commerce CEO Eileen Benjamin said the chamber is proud to honor the city’s protectors.

“The men and women of our Fire, Police and Communications departments keep our community safe and are willing to put their lives at risk for us every workday,” said Benjamin, who emceed the event along with Chamber President Tom Johnson.  “This event is a small way to demonstrate our appreciation.  It is wonderful to see many supporters joining together to show gratitude to these fine guardians.  The people of Costa Mesa are inspiring in so many ways.”

In addition to the OC Fair & Event Center donating the venue, the Orange County Marketplace donated the catering and other supporters were Care Ambulance, Harbor Center and ICI Development, Metro Pro Towing and The Triangle. Longtime Chamber Board of Director member Patty Mason was also instrumental in supporting this event, and the music was provided by the Mike Donahue band.


The Community Emergency Response Team Program Celebrates 30 Years of Service to Local Area

 This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Community Emergency Response Team program and to celebrate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency partnered with California Volunteers, NBC Universal, and other CERT partners across nation to host a National CERT conference in Universal City earlier this month.

CERT Program Coordinators from Costa Mesa (Brenda Emrick), Newport Beach (Matt Brisbois), Huntington Beach (Brevyn Mettler) and Laguna Beach (Jordan Villwock) were an integral part of the National CERT Conference and have all played key roles in the success of CERT.

The recent CERT conference provided an opportunity to pay tribute to the contributions of the extraordinary community volunteers locally and across the globe, as well as an opportunity to recognize the leaders of the CERT programs they serve locally, and at the state and national levels.

“Brenda, Matt, Brevyn, and Jordan have individually and collectively gone well above and beyond to represent our respective agencies and the communities we serve in an exemplary manner,” Costa Mesa Fire Chief Dan Stefano said.  “We are extremely fortunate to have this talented foursome working together to train and develop our CERT volunteers to assist our first responders in making our communities and the entire region more actively prepared for any emergency or disaster.”

CERT program partners from throughout Orange County in fire and law enforcement have supported and taken part in state-sponsored instructor training courses and are assets in the development of citizen preparedness drills and exercises to improve and enhance the resiliency of the people in Orange County.

There are more than 28 Orange County city-sponsored CERT programs including Teen, Campus and Workplace programs registered on the National CERT website. Orange County CERT programs have been recognized nationally by FEMA for their training, best practices activities, and program organization.  For additional information on a CERT program near you, please contact your local fire department or law enforcement agency.

Residents urged to Sign up for AlertOC to get critical information during emergencies

Because September marks National Preparedness Month, public safety officials are urging residents and businesses to prepare for the many hazards that threaten our daily lives and sense of normalcy – most often occurring in Southern California with little to no warning.

Whether it’s wildfires due to the state’s extended drought, mudslides, floods or massive earthquakes, disasters occur rapidly, forcing evacuations and road closures to neighborhoods.

AlertOC, the County’s mass notification system, is a critical link for residents to immediately learn of any required actions, such as evacuating their homes during an imminent fire.

On Thursday Sept. 22, more than two million Orange County residents will receive a call to test AlertOC.

The drill will replicate a large scale, multi-jurisdictional emergency requiring thousands of numbers to be called simultaneously across Orange County’s entire region.

This is the seventh annual regional test of the system and will include 26 participating cities as well as the County’s unincorporated areas.

The distinctive feature of AlertOC is the ability for individuals to register multiple contact methods and addresses.

Registrations of cell phone and alternate numbers dramatically increase the ability to reach the greatest number of community members within minutes.

This enables landlines, cell phones and e-mail addresses to be incorporated into a single notification system.

Residents can do their part to prepare for emergencies by registering for AlertOC.

The time is now to self-register cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses to be a part of the regional test.

For more information or to register alternate phone numbers or e-mail addresses, visit

Chiefs Take Part in Motor Home Madness Demolition Derby at the Fair

On Thursday Aug. 11, Costa Mesa Fire Chief Dan Stefano and Chief Rob Sharpnack participated in the Motor Home Madness Demolition Derby at the 2016 Orange County Fair.

The pair were also joined by Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis. The money raised at the event goes to fund breast cancer awareness.

The first to enter the race was Chief Sharpnack.

Just after 8 p.m. Sharpnack, No. 44 (our department’s designated number) entered the arena in a painted black and white RV, with the words police and SWAT painted on the sides and with police lights mounted on the top.

As the crowd cheered and began to get excited No. 51 Chief Stefano entered. Making his way around the arena, Stefano entered in a red and gold RV with flashing lights making a few laps round before parking on the opposite side of Sharpnack.

Before the event began all participants exited their RV’s and ran around the arena waving their arms and getting the crowd pumped up. Stefano ran around with two fire extinguishers, which set the crowd off.

Unfortunately, Sharpnack and Stefano got knocked out the first half, but it was an exciting event that offered a fun and light-hearted vibe drew in thousands of spectators.

Be safe on July 4 and avoid injuries

Beginning June 30 through July 4, safe and sane fireworks will be available for sale and for use in the city of Costa Mesa.

While the city encourages residents to purchase the legal fireworks, which supports local non-profit groups, there will be zero tolerance for anyone caught using the illegal versions. Sale of a illegal fireworks in California is a felony and lighting them is a misdemeanor. Click here for more information in English and Spanish on fireworks.

We urge residents to follow these safety tips provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission when using legal fireworks:


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  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Unveils 90th Anniversary Badge to honor History and the Community

Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue members will wear a 90th Anniversary Badge on their uniforms for the remainder of the year to pay tribute to the valued history of over 90 years of service to the community, dating back to its origins as a volunteer fire department under the leadership the first Fire Chief Fred Brush.

CMVFD 1925

“Like so many great ideas in the fire service, this one came from one of our talented firefighters, Engineer Scott Purcell,” said Fire Chief Dan Stefano. “He deserves the credit for taking his idea of a 90th anniversary badge from its conception to full implementation. We are extremely proud of our storied history serving such an incredible and vibrant community and of Scott’s passion and dedication to bring the badge to life.”

Engineer Purcell, who worked with others on the design, sought input from the entire organization, in addition to working with our community partners.

“The badge encompasses multiple aspects from within our city, county and the fire service as a whole,” Engineer Purcell said.

The center of the badge pays tribute to the legendary Segerstrom Hall, with the lima beans and oranges on the sides representing the famed farming history of Costa Mesa and the County of Orange as a whole.

The bottom of the badge includes the individual identification number for each fire and rescue team member and the axes on either side of the badge are a signature tool of a firefighter.

The head of each axe highlights two significant numbers; the year the fire department was established and the number 343, which represents the number of firefighters that made the ultimate sacrifice on Sept. 11, 2001.


In the Spotlight: Alma Reyes

Fire Department Management Analyst Alma Reyes was the recipient of May’s CEO Leadership Award.

Our video team spent some time with Reyes to get an idea of what her workday is like.

Alma Reyes receives CEO Leadership Award for May

At the May Meet and Greet, City CEO Tom Hatch presented Management Analyst Alma Reyes with the CEO Leadership Award.

Reyes has been with the City of Costa Mesa since January of 2011, where she began her first job as a Management Analyst for the Public Services Department. In April of 2013, she transferred into the Parks and Community Services Department to serve as both the Management Analyst and Recreation Supervisor.

In November of 2015, Reyes moved into the Fire & Rescue Department to serve as a Management Analyst and Chief Dan Stefano praised her passion for public service, team value orientation and engaged professionalism.

She provides support to the Fire & Rescue Department in the following areas: Budget preparation, procurement of supplies and equipment, processing invoices, contract administration, managing/tracking funds, monitoring of department budget, and special projects (i.e. CIPs).

She also serves in various city committees.

Prior to working in Costa Mesa, Reyes worked for 10 years for the City of Hawaiian Gardens in various areas of local government including: Administration, Public Relations, Public Safety, Public Works, Recreation, Code Enforcement and Finance.

In addition to honoring Reyes, CEO Hatch welcomed three new employees, recognized three more for promotions and congratulated Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz on his upcoming retirement.

There will be smoke but no fire in wild land fire training that begins Friday in Canyon Park

Beginning Friday May 27, 2016, Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue will be conducting wild land fire training in the Canyon Park area beginning at 8 a.m. until about 3:30 p.m. to prepare for the upcoming brushfire season.

The department will be using cold smoke from canisters to give a sense of realism to the training and assist firefighting personnel with locating the source of the simulated fire.

Fire and Rescue wants the public to know that while smoke may be visible to nearby residents, the canisters pose no safety or fire risk.

Additional training will take place on the following days:

June 1
8 a.m. to 12 noon
1 p.m. to 3:30

June 3
8 a.m. to 12 noon

June 6
8 a.m. to 12 noon
1 p.m. to 3:30

June 9
8 a.m. to 12 noon

June 20
8 a.m. to 12 noon