Chico is home to a growing number of fire-related businesses
As is true for much of California, fire preparedness is an important initiative in Butte County. Chicoans have rallied with our trademark can-do spirit to turn a problem into something positive: our city has become a hub for businesses in the fire and rescue industry. Both homegrown operations and out-of-town transplants are sharing their innovative skillsets and products for good. When paired with high-impact, community education initiatives like Be Ready, Butte!, the region is leading the way in wildfire and natural disaster safety preparedness.
Below are just a few of the companies in Chico focused on keeping our communities safer:
Rescue 42 makes rescue equipment for firefighters
Almost 30 years ago, Rescue 42 was founded in response to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. After surviving it, CEO Tim O’Connell and his wife Celia identified the need for a tool to make the “Jaws of Life™” better to help evacuate people from jammed doors of buildings and cars. Tim invented something called “O’Connell Plates™” (later shortened to O-Plate™) to help with these extractions. The company expanded into making an entire family of stabilization products, all of which are still manufactured in Chico today and used by thousands of fire departments in both the USA and Canada.
QTAC provides fire and rescue apparatus
Founded as Blackline MFG in 1997 in Etna, CA, this family business relocated to Chico in 2001 to expand its operations in a larger production facility. Owner Tom Black partnered with his son Jason to make copolymer tanks and truck bodies for the fire service industry and incorporated as MTech, Inc. in 2005. The QTAC product line was launched in 2012 in response to a request for a “fire truck for a UTV,” and it expanded from there to offer rescue and fire-rescue skids and trucks for fire departments, EMS, winery owners, the forest service, and other organizations needing tough, durable vehicle-based apparatus to help with fire suppression.
Firestorm offers professional fire crews for forestry, fire safety, and training
In 1995, Firestorm founder Jim Wells had the vision to create a resource to assist federal agencies in their fire suppression and fuel management efforts. Over the last few decades, Firestorm has grown from providing a single organized fire crew in Lassen Forest to a large division with multiple fire crews, personnel, and wildfire engines for emergency situations. They currently offer a training program taught by National Wildfire Suppression Association (NWSA) certified instructors to give potential firefighters and other professionals the knowledge and training they need in the forestry and fire arena. Other key services include consulting, planning, and implementation of mechanical and manual services like site preparation and fuel reduction.
Airspray USA fights fires from the skies
One of the most important weapons to extinguish wildfires comes from above. Airspray USA works with government clients to bring its fleet of air tankers and air attack planes to where they’re needed most. While the company has its origins in Canada dating back to the 1950s, this American arm is located in Chico. Airspray not only provides air tanker support during emergencies, but also develops simulators to train aircraft personnel, and offers training for aerial wildfire suppression aircraft.
With all of these innovative companies and more, it’s no wonder Chico has become a hub for fire-related services. Chico is always ready to roll out the welcome mat to more companies who want to contribute to the betterment of our community. It’s one more reason why so many businesses Choose Chico!