The beginning of Autumn is just around the corner. We hope you’re getting a good dose of “outdoors” time and enjoying some of the best weather of the year.

San Mateo Fire are the next ones to be featured in our series “Getting to Know Our Fire Departments.”

One of the best parts of the job at Oxgut is getting to know our fire departments – each one with its own heroic past, its own story to tell. And, just radically selfless, amazing people to know! It’s these modest heroes that inspire us, and we’d like to share their stories with you.


This time, we went interview style and Gino Lavezzo with the San Mateo Fire Fighters’ Association was kind enough to answer our questions.

We know the Valley Fire was devastating to the community. What was your experience?

The Valley Fire was a very eye-opening experience for me. Being in the fire service only about 5 years, this was the most devastation I had ever seen. The areas of Middletown, Cobb Mountain, and Hidden Valley Lake had areas that were completely burned to the ground. The houses were not just partially burned, they were burned down to the foundation!! On many streets, all you saw was the chimney of the house and a big pile of ash. It was tough watching people sift through there belongings trying to find anything that they could salvage but the folks from these communities were very thankful for all that we did to help.

The more recent Clayton Fire seemed to have a lot of similarities. How did the communities react?

I was not on this fire but in talking to the guys that went to the Clayton Fire, it sounded like the Lower Lake community was effected much like the communities of Middletown, Cobb, and Hidden Valley Lake. The fire blew through the town of Lower Lake very rapidly and cause quite a bit of destruction.

Please tell us about the history of SMFD.

The history of SMFD is pretty extensive but it started in the late 1800’s and has continued to serve the San Mateo community ever since. SMFD got their first pumping engine in 1921 (a 1921 Seagrave) which we have refurbished and still currently have stored at our Downtown Station 21. We currently have 6 stations in San Mateo and ran just over 10,000 emergency calls last year. We continue to serve the community of San Mateo with the highest regard for customer service.


How many firefighters are in the Department?

We have about 75-80 firefighters in the city of San Mateo. We also have shared services with Foster City and Belmont. In total with these three cities, we have 9 stations, 10 Engine Companies, 2 Truck Companies, and 1 Operations Battalion Chief on duty everyday.

Where have some of your deployments been this year?

This year we have sent crews to Kern County (twice), San Luis Obispo County, Lake County, and the Soberanes Fire in the Big Sur area.

Gino shared this picture of some of the SMFD crew out at the recent Chimney Fire in San Luis Obispo County. They were deployed on their OES engine for the fire.


Thanks so much for taking the time to share your Department with us, Gino! And our heartfelt thanks to ALL firefighters and personnel from all departments who do what you do each and every day. Our hats are off to you.

PS: Here’s the discount we mentioned: $10 off next order for firefighters or gifts for firefighters using code imaff (I’m a firefighter) on through Sept. 30th.