It's Better Than Superman -

MVFD to the Rescue

Mountain Valley Fire Department - An Asset Worth Supporting

Fifty Five Years of Service to the Community


An interview with  Greg Bardorf, MVFD Fire Chief


Most of us that live in the communities from Squaw Valley to the King’s Canyon Park gates and over into Badger and Hartland, know the value of having a local volunteer fire department.  They are often first responders to local fires and accidents.  As volunteers they are expected to drop everything when a call comes in and rush to the scene, prepared to help accident victims or put out fires or direct traffic, whatever is required at the moment.  While we value their presence, most of us take it for granted that they will be there when we need them and don’t know what it takes to keep the fire department running so they can respond to our needs.  A little history and a few facts can help us to more appreciate their efforts and give them the support they need to continue.


The Mountain Valley Fire Department has been serving the community  for the last 55 years.  They cover a territory of over 560 square miles, one of the largest service areas in the state, and do it with half  the income of most volunteer fire departments.  Their funding comes strictly from community donations.  The money goes for structure gear, wildland gear, pagers, radios, workmen’s compensation, insurance, and training among other things.  Gear needs to be replaced  and updated periodically.  As the department has grown, more gear is needed to make sure new members have what they need to fight fires or go on calls.  


The MVFD fleet consists of seven trucks, including one rescue truck, one utility truck, three engines, and two water tenders. The pride of the department is their two water tenders.  When fully loaded they can carry 6000 gallons of water.  CalFire engines can carry only about 500 gallons, and they have no water tenders.  MVFD often is called on to send their water tenders out when copious amounts of water are required to fight a fire.  The newest water tender is a custom vehicle designed by Rod Rimmer, specifically for work in the foothills.  It is designed to make tight turns and go into back roads and driveways that an ordinary engine would have difficulty with.  


When Chief Bardorf started twelve years ago the fire department had about eleven or twelve members.  That quickly shrank to four but has now made a thorough recovery and boasts about twenty members at this time.  The MVFD goes to both fires and accidents.  About 15 to 20% of their calls are for fire, about 80% respond to accidents.  Of their crew, five are trained as EMTs.  Member, Patty Leonhart is their primary trainer.  She also trains for CalFire. As EMTs they can do triage, make victims comfortable, size up injuries, and assist with CPR, oxygen and  diagnostics.  Fire crews generally consist of one person per truck, mainly because the trucks are kept with the driver, and a quick response means jumping in and taking off, not taking time to round up a second person.  When crews get to an incident they could be doing anything from fighting fires to traffic control.  


To insure the continuation of our volunteer fire department, we need to make sure they get the donations they need to survive.  Running engines and having the necessary gear and equipment is not cheap.  Radios need to be updated periodically to conform to greater bandwidth.  Gear wears out or gets outdated.  Trucks need maintenance.  Personal protection gear, which has a limit of ten years, needs replacing (about five sets a year).  Training is expensive and necessary to hone firefighting skills.  Safety is a huge issue.  And there is the ongoing expense of workmen’s compensation and insurance.  Chief Bardorf and the rest of the volunteers do a remarkable job of running a first class volunteer fire department.  They will soon be sending out letters requesting donations.  When you get that letter, give generously.  They are an important part of our communities, and I for one, want to know they are there if I need them.

To visit MVFD facebook page, click here:

Oak to Timberline Fire Safe Council

5                               PO Box 762, Squaw Valley, CA 93675

Funding provided by a grant from the Cooperative Fire Program of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Pacific Southwest Region, through the California Fire Safe Council. 


This institution is an equal opportunity provider. 


The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the California Fire Safe Council, U.S. Forest Service or the U.S. Government. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the California Fire Safe Council or the U.S. Government.