2 Fire Units Earn Top Professional Recognition

Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht poses next to firetruck.
Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht’s department is the recipient of the top insurance rating, and the chief himself earned a three-year renewal of his “chief fire officer” rating. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

The UC Davis Fire Department and Fire Prevention Services recently earned top professional recognition for their operations: an ISO Class 1 rating for the Fire Department, and accreditation for Fire Prevention Services.

“We are proud of these safety teams for meeting the highest standards for the protection of life, research and property at UC Davis,” said Kelly Ratliff, vice chancellor of Finance, Operations and Administration. Fire Prevention Services is a unit of FOA’s Safety Services, while the Fire Department reports directly to the vice chancellor.


Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht recently earned a new three-year designation as a “chief fire officer,” awarded by the Commission on Professional Credentialing, part of the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

He first earned the designation in 2010, signifying his commitment to his career in fire and emergency services, and has maintained it ever since, by showing continued growth in the areas of professional development, professional contributions, active association membership and community involvement as well as adherence to a strict code of professional conduct.

Trauernicht also is professionally designated as a “chief emergency medical services officer" and a “chief training officer.”

Read more about Trauernichts designations.

The Fire Department is one of only 36 fire agencies in California, or about 4 percent of the state’s nearly 900 fire departments, to receive a Class 1 rating in the ISO’s Public Protection Classification program. At the national level, the campus Fire Department is one of about 350 agencies out of more than 41,000 to earn the Class 1 rating, putting the campus department in the top 0.008 percent.

Most U.S. insurers use the program’s ratings in calculating premiums. While UC is self-insured, the Class 1 rating nevertheless recognizes UC Davis’ efforts to attain and maintain the benchmark of world-class fire and emergency services, Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht said.

The rating system looks at:

  • Equipment, staffing and training
  • Water supply system, including inspection and flow testing of hydrants and a careful evaluation of the amount of available water, compared with the amount needed to suppress fires
  • Emergency communications systems
  • Community efforts to reduce the risk of fire, including fire prevention codes and enforcement, public fire safety education, and fire investigation programs

“This achievement is a direct result of the combined efforts of our firefighters, campus water utilities, campus Fire Prevention Services and Yolo Emergency Communications Agency 911 dispatchers as well as the support of campus leadership to make UC Davis an even safer place,” Trauernicht said.

The campus department is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by professional firefighters and emergency medical technicians, and student firefighters and EMTs.

The department has been averaging about 1,350 calls a year the last few years, most for medical aid. Fires and hazardous materials calls make up a significantly smaller proportion of the department’s call volume, but, in a university setting, are considered high risk — and require substantial training time. Many times, UC Davis firefighters respond to wildfires around the state, staying out for up to 14 days at a time.

In addition, the Fire Department runs an EMT certification program (with a wait list of more than 200 for this summer) and teaches other lifesaving courses (including cardiopulmonary resuscitation classes, advanced cardiac life support and prehospital trauma life support); and maintains automated external defibrillators (AEDs) positioned around the campus.

Last but not least, the Fire Department partners with Campus Recreation to present the popular Fit for Fire exercise course, nine weeks long, boot camp-style.


Five people, lined up in pose, outdoors.
The Fire Prevention Services team, from left: Tim Annis, Kim Stephens, Jim Patterson, Paige McKibbin and Greg Van Aken.


Fire Prevention accreditation

Jim Patterson, fire marshal for the Davis campus, said Fire Prevention Services is the first such agency in higher education to receive Fire Prevention and Life Safety Department accreditation from the International Accreditation Service. Operated as a nonprofit, public benefit corporation, IAS has been providing accreditation services since 1975, gathering objective evidence that an organization operates at the highest level of ethical, legal and technical standards.

“Getting accredited involves an assessment of the department’s goals, policies and procedures for code administration, plan review and inspection,” Patterson said. “Through this assessment, UC Davis Fire Prevention has demonstrated that it implements best practices for public safety, and the department is competent and meets nationally recognized standards.”

He said Fire Prevention Services has embraced quality management principles and proactively identified strengths and weaknesses. “As an IAS-accredited Fire Prevention and Life Safety Department, we have established and assessed goals for public safety, customer service, budgeting, professional development and other related functions.”

Patterson and his team conduct building inspections and review plans for all construction, including remodeling projects; and oversee the maintenance of fire protection systems. The team also inspects fire extinguishers and teaches people how to use them.

Fire Prevention personnel give life safety presentations in campus housing and off-campus fraternities and sororities, and to teaching assistants in high-risk departments.

The team provides guidance and inspections for special events, including athletic events, concerts and large gatherings such as Picnic Day.

Patterson said Fire Prevention Services completed a comprehensive review and assessment of all phases of the organization, then developed a strategic plan as the repository of all identified short-, medium- and long-term goals and objectives. All findings in the self-assessment and risk analysis are tied together to promote strategic discussion among the staff and to plan for the future.

“As we strive to provide the best, most efficient services to the faculty, staff and students, this process has provided a better work environment for members of the campus community,” Patterson said. 

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