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Independent Voice

Dixon City Fire Academy Hopes to Attract Recruits

Feb 28, 2024 10:23AM ● By Angela Underwood

A Dixon Firefighter adjusts his harness while practicing safety exercises. Photo courtesy of Dixon Fire Department

DIXON, CA (MPG) - In one of the most notable U.S. states for wild blazes, Dixon Fire Chief Todd McNeal said California has a limited pool of firefighters.

Attracting candidates and first responders is critical in building a strong fire department, which is why the city of Dixon is creating a city-sponsored firefighter academy for paramedic recruitments.

“We are competing with surrounding agencies for a limited pool of candidates,” McNeal said. “This is a new tool to help recruit firefighter candidates who are already licensed paramedics but need to attend the fire academy.”

With the overall hiring difficulties in fire service throughout California, McNeal said, it is important to utilize all opportunities to find qualified candidates.

“We currently have multiple recruitments open for the position of firefighter/paramedic,” McNeal said. 

The fire chief said the dual position of firefighter and paramedic provides a higher level of emergency medical services to patients on scene, which is up to 65 percent of the fire department’s total volume calls. 

“This program will help us recruit more paramedics and provide a higher level of care when responding to an incident,” McNeal said.

The Dixon Fire Department provides vital emergency response services locally and to surrounding unincorporated areas, according to Dixon Mayor Steve Bird. 

“Not only do they respond to fires in our primary response area, they also support the Solano County Automatic/Mutual Aid System and provide resources to the state and federal agencies during large-scale disasters,” Bird said. 

That is why in the dual position, candidates must be in the know, according to the fire chief.

“It is crucial for our firefighters and paramedics to stay updated on the latest procedures, technology, and programs related to public safety for several reasons,” McNeal said. 

The main reason is advancements in technology and procedures can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of emergency response efforts, the fire chief.  

“By staying informed and training in the latest tools and techniques, firefighters and paramedics can better protect the community in critical situations and better respond to protect life property and the environment,” McNeal said.

With protection comes education. Bird said that the Dixon Professional Firefighters Association is active in the community, creating a culture of awareness.

“They participate in special events throughout the area, help nonprofit groups and provide important public education about fire safety,” Bird said.

Meeting all the requirements of the dual position is a must, according to the chief. The program requires enrollment in a California State Fire Marshall approved Fire Fighter 1 Academy, which includes testing, interviews and physical mandates.

Dixon Fire Department staff share education and awareness on fire safety at a 2023 Halloween event in Dixon. Photo courtesy of Dixon Fire Department

When considering creating the academy, McNeal said, Dixon officials evaluated the city's needs and then looked at similar programs that other fire departments had, including the city of Benicia. 

The program’s original concept was modeled after the city of Dixon’s Police Recruit program.

“The overall goal of this program is to provide yet another recruitment tool available to the Dixon Fire Department in these times of recruitment challenges,” McNeal said. “We look forward to rolling out this new program and creating an opportunity for new firefighter/paramedics to join our department.”

To find out more about the Dixon Fire Department recruitment program, visit