This last year was incredibly difficult for our community. The Hayward Fire Department (HFD) took on unexpected tasks throughout the pandemic to meet the residents’ needs without hesitation. In response to COVID-19, HFD stood up the nation’s first drive-through test site and helped stand up vaccine distribution points throughout Alameda County.
Our staff's health, safety, and well-being are the most important responsibilities I have and were also identified by our City Manager and City Council as top priorities. As we continue to improve our facilities and equipment to prevent carcinogen exposure, we also invested in the mental health of our firefighters by retaining a department psychologist with expertise in first responder PTSD. These health efforts have already proven to be an invaluable asset. In addition, we have reorganized and expanded our peer-run Critical Incident Stress Management Team assisting their colleagues to mitigate the potential for post-traumatic stress.
Our Firefighters work diligently year-round to maintain and advance the collective skillset to expand the range of response capabilities, commonly referred to as an “all-hazard” environment response. We continue to improve upon service delivery through continued training in emergency medical services, fire response, and technical rescue. We aim to complete a Community Risk Assessment, Standards of Cover, Strategic Plan, and Local Hazard Mitigation Plan through self-evaluation and community input in the coming year. The processes required for these reports will allow the Department to move forward with clear and attainable goals representing and integrating community-identified priorities. As a best practice, the Department will continue refining services and making programmatic upgrades while focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We look forward to refocusing our energy on several projects planned for the next fiscal year with the most challenging year behind us. The Department is staffed with hard-working and dedicated public servants that share a vision to strive for excellence in our service to the Hayward community, and I could not be more proud as I begin my tenth year as Hayward’s Fire Chief.
Garrett Contreras, Fire Chief