De Luz Volunteer Fire Department History
In 1976, the County of San Diego funded, equipped and trained numerous rural Volunteer Fire Departments for a period of 5 years. The County gave five old fire engines to De Luz and gave them training with the understanding that the County would fund the Department for five years, after which the community of De Luz would fund it themselves. After five years, it was determined that cost per household would be too great (more than $100) and the crew lost interest. Upon reaching the 5-year mark, it was decided by the majority of the community to return the 5 fire engines to the County and just rely on the seasonal manning of the De Luz 3 man CDF station. Very few fires occurred back in those days. Over the five years, they fought no fires. In 1981, all fire engines were returned to the County of San Diego. At that time, the population of De Luz was approximately 50% less than it is today.
However, as neighbors we continued to respond too and fight fires with only shovels and garden hoses, as mutual aid was always 1 or 2 hours away.
Several major fires occurred between 1985 and 1997 resulting in heavy property loss and even homes. In 1985, there was a devastating firestorm that swept through the area. Dick Wright, one of our current Captains lost his home and nursery business at the 6.0 mile marker during that summer Camp Pendleton Firestorm.
He and his wife Ruth now reside in their new home at the 11.5-mile marker on the De Luz Murrieta Road where our current De Luz sub-station 2 is located. It has two fire engines and 5 crewmembers. Dick is 74 years old and has already fought two brush fires as engine 92B Captain.
In the spring of 1997, after going through the frustrating fires of the previous fire season, where neighbors again fought numerous small and large fires with only shovels, garden hoses and the equipment pictured below, we decided enough was enough.
Something had to be done, so Mike Manchor, Rick Burch, Ted Von Hirsch and several other residents bought a used 1963 Ford pickup for $200. They refitted it with 400' of fire hose, a pump, a 110-gal water tank and a CB radio. They even devised a unique siren by rigging a car alarm with an on/off switch. Through the efforts of these Deluzians, the De Luz Volunteer Fire Department was started. This truck saw action 7 times by the close of 1997. And, it was clear to all; we needed a bigger more effective fire engine, to replace the 'engines' shown below, for the coming year!
In June 1998, Chief Manchor found a fully functional ex-CDF International Model One Brush Engine for $4,300. He solicited donations using a mail fund raising drive to pay it. On July 4th it arrived at Ross Lake for duty.
Since 1997, the De Luz Volunteer Fire Department has fought 31 fires in the De Luz area, nearly always arriving first on scene within 15 minutes of a call. We are making the difference between having small fires and major conflagrations, saving life, property and our ever-scenic De Luz.
Today we operate 11 fire engines, have 33 trained volunteer Firefighters and are recognized by Federal, State and County Governments as a Fire Agency.
Neighbor helping neighbor is a common practice in De Luz. A practice that makes De Luz special and one to be proud of.
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