Sylmar lacks fire emergency resources compared to rest of LA

Deep in the San Fernando Valley, Sylmar is a community that has seen its share of natural disasters. In 2008, the Marek and Sayre fires devastated the community. In 2017, there was the Creek Fire and most recently to the Saddleridge Fire in 2019, which started in Sylmar and moved to Porter Ranch destroying multiple homes. 

"Sylmar has always been in the cusp of having those disasters," said resident Kurt Cabrera Miller. 

Another longtime resident, Jerry Brenan said, "We suffered 30 homes seven years ago. It’s gonna happen again, it’s going to happen again." 

A fast emergency response is important to this community like any other, yet as Sylmar continues to grow, the City of Los Angeles has never delivered what it promised; a second fire station, LAFD Station 31. On Nov. 1, 2006, there was a groundbreaking ceremony. 

A photo of a groundbreaking ceremony for an LAFD station from 2006 with text explaining the photo above it.

A photo from the groundbreaking ceremony for LAFD Station 31 in Sylmar, on Nov. 1, 2006. More than 16 years later, that station still has not been built

"When, when is it going to happen? We’ve had 20 years to figure it out and nothing's happened," said Sylmar resident Maria Carlito.  

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez represents the 7th District which includes Sylmar. She’s also Chair of the Public Safety Committee.

"Unfortunately the developer who was responsible to help deliver that was never to held to fulfilling that commitment," Rodriguez said. 

She added that even if the city could deliver that fire station now, there’s another problem. 

"Even if we had the fire station built, we don’t have the staffing levels to actually operate it, so that is a critical piece that we are working on right now," said Rodriguez. 

"They don't have the staff, they don't have the finances to do it. Well, they've had 20 years to prepare it, since they admitted 20 years ago there was a need for it. So, has the need diminished? No, we still have medical emergencies, we still have one of the busiest hospitals and Sylmar is just growing just like anywhere else in LA," said Miller. 

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Sylmar has Fire station 91, which is consistently busy, covering the largest geographical area of the San Fernando Valley.

Comparing fire resources with cities that are equal in population and demographics:


  • Population: 94,432
  • Area: 12.74 square miles
  • Fire Stations: 1


  • Population: 106,049
  • Area: 17.14 square miles
  • Fire Stations: 6


  • Population: 111,645
  • Area: 12.5 square miles
  • Fire Stations: 4

Santa Monica 

  • Population: 92,229
  • Area: 8.3 square miles
  • Stations: 5

The lack of fire stations and resources is affecting the entire Los Angeles region. As FOX 11 reported earlier this week, LAFD emergency response times are taking longer and longer.

"I’m getting older and this concerns me on the response time," Carlito said  

LAFD Fire Chief Kristin Crowley said the department is doing what it can to hire more personnel. Currently, the LAFD has five fire  academies, and she’s asking for an additional five.