Felton Fire Protection District


Felton Fire Protection District is a combination fire district composed at full staff of 30 volunteer firefighters, one part time administrator, 2 full time firefighter/EMTs, 2 full time Captains, and a full time Fire Chief. The fire district is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and serves a population of 6,000 permanent residents and up to 15,000 visitors during summer months. Volunteer firefighters first established fire response in Felton in 1935, and a formal district was established in 1935 as a Special District of the State of California. In partnership with Civil Defense, the first fire apparatus and equipment were purchased to serve the needs of the district, and in 1954, a permanent station was built at Felton Fire’s current address of 131 Kirby Street in downtown Felton.

Felton serves a variety of businesses, residences, and tourist attractions, including three schools, multiple conference centers, and Henry Cowell Redwood’s State Park. Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton operates a steam locomotive rides in the redwoods and a train running between Felton and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

The fire district is governed by an elected 5 member board of directors.  Each director serves a four-year term of office.  The term of office is staggered so that every two years some director seats term out.

The fire district is an all risk fire protection agency, responding to 750-900 calls for service each year, including fires, floods, rescues, medical emergencies, and public assistance. Felton Fire also participates or leads a variety of public education programs, including fire safety at local schools districts and a CERT program.

Felton volunteers were a major contributor to formalizing large animal rescue response in the United States and California.  By responding to local emergencies involving large animals, mostly horses, a training class was developed and Felton personnel have now taught the class throughout the western United States. Incidents involzving cattle, horses, or other large animals require specialty training and equipment, which Felton Fire maintains, and often occur in remote or difficult to access areas.

In late 2023 Felton Fire launched its Swift Water Rescue program, with 6 trained technicians on the department, many of whom are full time employees of the district. This program allows Felton Fire to reduce the response time to areas prone to flooding in the district, or rescues that may occur in the miles of rivers and streams located within our district and response area. Our technicians are available as a resource to our partner agencies in the county.

Felton has had 7 Fire Chiefs since it’s founding in 1948.  Chief Fetherston was the first, followed by Chief Ted Toft.  Chief Toft was fire chief from the formation of the fire district in 1948 until his retirement in the 1970’s.  Chief John McDonnell was the Chief after Toft and served until 1989.  Chief Don Ramos served for a year and was succeeded by Chief Ron Rickabaugh, who served from 1991 to 2019. Chief Gray served from 2019-2023.

The current interim Fire Chief is Chief Dan Arndt.

Fire District Mission Statement

The Felton Fire Protection District’s mission is to be an effective emergency service organization serving the residents, business and property owners, and visitors of Felton, with quality fire suppression, emergency medical services, rescue, fire prevention and public education.
In carrying out this mission, the Felton Fire Protection District will:

  • Provide priority to fire fighter safety
  • Encourage the educational and personal development of fire district personnel
  • Promote positive attitudes and teamwork to take full advantage of our skills, knowledge and creativity
  • Communicate openly and honestly to our members and community to inspire trust and confidence

Felton Fire is committed to providing the highest level of Professionalism, Service, and Honor.

Fire District Values


  • F – Felton residents, businesses and visitors. The fire district exists by public approval and our function is to serve the public interest. The fire district is committed to listening and responding to the community and the people within our organization. The fire district strives to find better ways to serve the residents, businesses and visitors of Felton.
  • E – Ethical. The fire district is committed to conducting business with the highest ethical standards.
  • L – Learning. The fire district values the importance of training and retaining talented personnel. Training prepares the fire fighters for safe and efficient emergency practices.
  • T – Team. The fire district strives to maintain a cooperative relationship between the Board of Directors, fire chief, fire fighters and the Auxiliary. Working together as a team fosters trust, resolution of conflicts, commitment, accountability and achievement of goals.
  • O – Opportunities. Opportunities are encouraged for all volunteers to develop their potential and make the best use of their abilities. Opportunities may be found in training, emergency incidents, public events, public education and more.
  • N – Nurturing. The fire district believes in the importance of nurturing and maintaining positive relationships with all fire agencies and other government agencies in the County of Santa Cruz, State of California, the Federal government and other Special Districts.
  • F – Firefighters. The fire district’s volunteer fire fighters are the fire district’s most valuable assets. With the active participation of the fire fighters, the Felton Fire District is able to provide a quality service to the residents, businesses and visitors of Felton. Without the fire fighters, Felton Fire District has little to nothing to offer the public.
  • I – Involved in the community. The Felton Fire District strives to be an active member of the Felton community. Beyond fire and emergency services, the fire district is active in the Felton Business Association, sponsoring youth sport teams, assisting SLV Unified School District at events like football games, graduation, Grad Night and public education at the elementary schools. CPR, AED and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes are offered to the public at no charge.
  • R – Responsible. The fire district believes the quality of service is everyone’s responsibility. The fire district prepares for it’s response to emergencies and believes the property owners, residents, business owners and visitors should prepare for potential emergencies as well. The best outcome in an emergency situation is found when all parties have done their part to keep the emergency manageable.
  • E – Equipped. The fire district places high value on equipping our fire fighters with quality equipment they need to carry out their tasks safely and effectively. To the best of the fire district’s ability, every effort will be made to provide the finest equipment possible for the fire fighters to use. This includes the purchase and on–going maintenance, as required.