Meet the City of Petaluma Fire Marshal

Jessica Power, Petaluma Fire Marshal

Jessica Power is the City of Petaluma Fire Marshal.

She joined the City in June 2017, bringing  two decades’ of diverse experience in the fire service, as well as a positive attitude and a desire to serve.

Power–and her canine education assistant, Probie–sat down with Petaluma Star to share more about about what has inspired her and the role she’ll play in the City.

Q: What is your background?

A: I was introduced to the fire service through a family friend, and fell in love with it. I was immediately drawn to the way the fire service is connected to the community and helping those in need.

I went to a fire academy as soon as I could, and I worked as a seasonal with CDF (now CalFire) for six years while I attended college and finished my degree. I was introduced to the field of fire prevention during my time at CalFire, and the concepts of prevention and risk reduction resonated with me.

I started my full time career as a fire prevention specialist with the Tiburon Fire District, where I was able to pursue prevention specific training and education.  My experiences and knowledge gained in Marin County helped me climb the career ladder, and I became the Fire Marshal at the Tiburon Fire Protection District.

Q: What inspires you?

A: I have a strong desire to help people, which is why public service is such a great fit for me. As a firefighter, my job was to help people through the worst moments in their lives, when they were at their most vulnerable. Now, in fire prevention, my job is helping our community prevent those moments.

One of my mentors told me, “Fire Prevention is not a box on a form that can be checked, it is not a destination that can be reached over a given length of time, it is a constant vigilance that must be sustained in order to be effective.  We cannot get complacent in our fire prevention efforts, the cost of that error is simply too high.”

This resonated with me, and I believe it wholeheartedly.  I strive to exemplify that every day.

Q: What is the role of the Fire Prevention Bureau?

A. Interacting with businesses and our community is a big part of what we do in Fire Prevention& Technical Services Bureau, which is the Division I oversee as the Fire Marshal.

We are responsible for consistently and fairly enforcing all codes of the State of California and ordinances as adopted by the City of Petaluma as they relate to fire and life safety.  This includes reviewing plans and conducting field inspections of project sites for compliance with code requirements.

We work with existing businesses and homeowners to identify and eliminate conditions that would threaten the safety of the buildings’ occupants or impede the Fire Department’s ability to assist in an emergency.  Part of that includes our annual business permitting and inspection program and engine company inspection program.

In the spring and summer months, our weed abatement program inspects public and private lots for unabated hazardous and/or combustible fuels and provides notice and/or abatement to property owners.

Q: How do you educate businesses?

A. One of our goals is to help businesses and homeowners understand not only requirements and fees, but also the reasons why the codes are there in first place.

I find that when businesses learn about the tragedies that have prompted a certain code, they understand that it’s not just a government regulation, but a necessity too, almost a type of insurance, not just for them and their business, but also for their customers.

A. Do you have special projects planned?

A. The City recently finished significant improvements to the water system in the downtown area.  As a result, downtown business and property owners will be required to install sprinkler systems over the next 6-12 years.  This will have a financial impact on local businesses, but the benefits of this requirement will be exponential in terms of public safety and minimizing fire losses.   My team and I will be working closely with individual businesses, as well as with the Petaluma Downtown Association, to ensure that everyone understands the timeline and the requirements.

Q. Tell us about Probie…

A. Probie is my four year old canine companion. He has been specially trained to help me teach school-aged children fire safety lessons such as Crawl Low and Go; Stop, Drop, and Roll; and Feel the Door for Heat.

Probie’s involvement in fire prevention in Tiburon was a big success. The community always looked forward to seeing him, both “in person” and in our education materials and on social media.

Probie’s role in Petaluma is still being finalized, but will likely include attending events supported by the Department and helping with our public education efforts.

Q. How do you keep your skills sharp?

A. Currently I’m enrolled in the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy.  This has been one of my most challenging, yet satisfying educational journeys, as it has built on my Bachelor’s Degree in Management, Fire Service experience and training, and my Leadership Certificate.  The program has encouraged both personal and professional growth.

Working with peers from across the nation, and even the world, and to share our experiences, perspectives, and ideas has helped me view my community and the challenges we face in a new light, and given me the tools to take them on.

Q. Any last thoughts??

A. We want business leaders to see the Fire Prevention Division as a partner in keeping our business community safe and thriving.

We are here to help you.  So please reach out and contact us any time you have a question or concern.

 



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