VISTA — Fire Chief Jeff Hahn joined Mayor Judy Ritter at the podium to collect two proclamations during the Sept. 12 City Council meeting. The first proclamation honored the Vista Fire Department’s 90th anniversary, while the other celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Vista Paramedic Program.
Ritter explained how the Vista Fire Department is the only accredited civilian fire department in San Diego County. In the state of California, there are 17 with this accreditation and there are 239 accredited agencies of this class in the world, she said.
Ritter congratulated both departments and encouraged the community to commemorate those milestones. After reading the proclamations, Ritter shared that her grandson was in the final stages of becoming a paramedic and she hoped that one day he would work in Vista.
Ritter then asked Hahn to say a few words. He started by thanking the city and the public for supporting their organizations over the years. The recognition was tremendous for the entire department, he said.
“We really stand on the shoulders of some great people who have served this community for 90 years, day in and day out, night and day, rain or shine,” Hahn said. “They’ve been there for the community, there for you. And so that’s a big deal, and it’s a very momentous occasion.”
According to Hahn, in 1927 there were 553 people in the community of Vista. At that time, a fire raised more awareness of the need to form a fire department. In 1927, 14 members served 553 residents. Today, those residential numbers have swelled to more than 120,000 people in the community both in the city and the Vista Fire Protection District.
“We’re very honored to serve the community,” he said.
On the paramedic front, Hahn said if Vista rolled the clock back to the 1960s, an article in the Vista Press indicated that the average wait time for a private ambulance to take someone to the hospital was an hour and a half.
“With the support of the council and the community, the Vista Fire Department bought an ambulance and began transporting people to the hospital,” Hahn said.
A paramedic program was implemented in 1977.
“On the seventh anniversary (paramedic program), a young paramedic walked through the door at Station 1 and turned out to be the seventh career fire chief of this department,” Hahn said. “And I am honored to be that guy.”