Message from Clovis Fire Chief, Chris Ekk

Chris Ekk (Photo City of Clovis)

April 16, 2024 – As your Fire Chief, it is my duty to ensure the safety and well-being of our community. I am writing to you today to shed light on some pressing challenges that the Clovis Fire Department is currently facing so that we can work together as a community on proactive solutions before the challenges get even worse in years to come.

Maintaining the Level of Service: One of the foremost challenges we face is maintaining our current level of services during significant population growth and an increase in call volume.

Despite a 39% population increase and a 44% rise in call volume, we are operating with lower staffing levels than we had in 2008/09. This strain on resources has inevitably led to longer response times, jeopardizing our ability to provide timely assistance in emergency situations.

Furthermore, we have experienced a reduction in both sworn and non-sworn positions since 2008/09, including one less Deputy Fire Chief, one Fire Inspector, and one office administration position. The increased workload coupled with fewer resources has placed additional pressure on our team, impacting our efficiency and effectiveness.

Growth vs. Response Times: The rapid growth in the northern areas of Clovis has already resulted in longer response times, and future developments will likely exceed our accepted response time standards.

Despite our best efforts, call volume continues to rise annually, resulting in longer response times. With increased response times, units are committed longer as well, and unavailable for additional calls.

This protracted commitment time is further compounded due to ambulances being held longer at the hospital and having to service a larger geography with City growth. Fire units cannot clear a call requiring transport or enhanced medical intervention until an ambulance arrives. While we provide the best quality service possible, these combined factors create a situation where units are committed longer and unavailable for other emergency calls.

Recruitment and Succession Planning: Recruiting qualified firefighters has become increasingly challenging, with a notable decrease in the number of applicants over the past few years.

What was once 400 to 500 applicants 10 years ago, has dwindled to fewer than 100 applicants in our last recruitment cycle. This decline poses a significant obstacle to maintaining adequate staffing levels and delivering the level of service our community deserves.

Another critical concern is succession planning within our command and headquarters staff. In the next 2-3 years, we anticipate significant retirements of almost half of our headquarters staff, including three out of five chief officers and two out of three fire prevention personnel, with one being a division manager.

It is imperative that we prioritize recruitment and training efforts to ensure a smooth transition and continuity of operations.

In conclusion, I want to assure you that the Clovis Fire Department is dedicated to overcoming these challenges and continuing to serve you to the best of our abilities.

We are working closely with the City Manager, who is 100% supportive of our efforts and is working with City Staff during the budget process to ensure public safety is prioritized.

However, we as City Staff cannot do it alone. Your support and understanding are crucial as we navigate these complex issues and work towards sustainable solutions.

Together, we can ensure the safety and well-being of our community for generations to come. We would invite you to participate in the budget process by sharing your priorities as a resident of Clovis by visiting:

Thank you for your continued trust and support.

Chris Ekk
Fire Chief
Clovis Fire Department