The Bakersfield Fire Department core values are encompassed in the acronym PRIDE, which stands for Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Excellence. Our core values are critically important to our everyday activities, and they are the standard by which we conduct and operate as an organization.

Professionalism: When our customers call upon us, we show up equipped and capable of handling any assignment or task given, because Bakersfield firefighters are trained to do so no matter the size or severity of the incident. Immediately upon calling 9-1-1, your initial contact is with a BFD dispatcher who is there to not only assist with your emergency, but to bring a level of comfort and calmness to most any situation.

Respect: Through equitable and ethical treatment you will be valued as our customer. We will be steadfast in an unbiased delivery of care and a duty to act in order to benefit those we serve.

Integrity: The BFD will not compromise quality customer service or concede to a standard of care that is less than extraordinary. Our firefighters and dispatchers will be principled, unified, and sincere in providing careful attention to detail while exhibiting thoughtfulness and understanding.

Dedication: Your Bakersfield Fire Department is committed to this community through continued efforts to not only work in the City of Bakersfield, but to give back in a special way. Through our four internal nonprofits and various charitable events, Bakersfield firefighters and dispatchers remain heavily engaged in our community.

Excellence: We continually chase perfection in order to provide superior service to the residents of Bakersfield. It is our aspiration to improve and perform at the highest level, in order to forge an extraordinary fire agency through a focus on quality all-risk service that exceeds our customer’s expectations.

With that in mind, the COVID-19 spread placed added responsibility and awareness that was an unexpected burden on department personnel. With numerous fire agencies experiencing both internal and external issues in regard to the COVID-19 spread, locally it created a stress in call volume and staffing alike. This pandemic has affected our personnel both professionally as well as personally. Additionally, the wildland fire season throughout the state will undoubtedly have many departments spread thin with Bakersfield firefighters participating exhaustibly in an effort to assist in extinguishing the numerous active wildfires.

Sadly, the reality of our profession was brought into tragic view on Feb. 18, 2020, when Fire Capt. Ray Figueroa and Firefighter Patrick Jones of the Porterville Fire Department paid the ultimate sacrifice battling a massive fire at the Porterville City Library. Later that month, hundreds of firefighters from throughout California, including your Bakersfield firefighters, gathered in formation to pay their respects to our fallen brothers.

In summary, it has been an extremely active and challenging year for Bakersfield firefighters. They have endured so much over the last year; however, they continue to deliver customer service that is professional, positive and unparalleled. This has proven to be a year of resilience, fortitude, sleepless nights, struggle, heightened alertness, and even tragedy in our profession.

I am honored to be a part of an organization that is painstakingly skillful and profoundly personal in the care they deliver to the community regardless of the perilous issues surrounding them. I swell with pride to be a part of this organization and to work alongside such brave men and women who collectively make up your Bakersfield Fire Department.

Anthony Galagaza is chief of the Bakersfield Fire Department.