OUR DISTRICT: HISTORY
The Mosquito Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) was founded in 1972, not long after development began on the Swansboro Country subdivision in 1968. Much of the early historical information of Mosquito comes from written recollections of Lois Pearson and Lucille Davies. In her book, “Mosquito Memories”, Lois describes her grandfather, Adam Melchior arriving in the area in 1852 by ox-team from Pennsylvania. The community was named Mosquito in 1853.
It seems a few miners were sitting around the campfire thinking about naming the area and agreed the next word out of anyone’s mouth would be the name. Just then one of the miners was bit by a Mosquito and yelled, “Damn Mosquito!” Well, they couldn’t call it “Damn”.
The early years of the area saw continuous use of the land. First, as a mining community after James Summerfield constructed a water ditch in 1850 from Slab Creek to provide water to miners in Mosquito Canyon.
Then, lumber operations proceeded under various companies, including the El Dorado Lumber Co., which built a 3,000- foot long steam-operated cable tramway to move lumber from North Cable on the north side of the river to South Cable point on the south side – 1,200 feet above the river. A narrow-gauge railroad connected South Cable to Camino, California crossing three summits with grades as steep as 7 percent.
After large-scale lumber operations diminished around 1949, the Mosquito area supported numerous farms and orchards.
The developers of the Swansboro subdi- vision donated land and some materials, and with volunteer labor and money from fund raisers, the original fire station was built in 1973. In 1978, the Mosquito Fire Protection District (MFPD/MQT) https://mfpd.us was formed by voter initiative using the boundaries of the Mosquito Election Precinct. The district is 13 square miles and is entirely State Responsibility Area bordered by the El Dorado National Forest. The district population is approximately 2,000.
The Mosquito Bridge (wood, suspended by cables), originally built in 1867 is one of two primary ways into the community. Fire engines, ambulances and other heavy vehicles cannot cross the bridge and must use Rock Creek Rd. This creates a minimum 40-45 minute delay in getting emergency resources and paramedics to MQT incidents. During wildland season, use of aircraft is critical while waiting for ground resources to arrive.
In 1997, the State condemned the Finnon Lake Dam as seismically unsafe and offered the property to the Mosquito Volunteer Fire Dept (MVFD), which bought it for $1.00. In late 2006, MVFD changed its name to the Mosquito Volunteer Fire Association (MVFA), and reorganized into a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The dam was replaced in 2011, and holds a large body of water for fire suppression. The recreation area has a popular campground and is a venue for wildland firefighter training.
The MVFA maintains a “Station 75 Fund” which provides money to buy tools and equipment for the fire department, at the request of the Chief.
MFPD Station 75 is supported by property taxes and a special fire tax assessment from district property owners which enables the district to employ a paid Chief, an administrative assistant and several paid fire fighters. Volunteers from within the local community and surrounding areas form the primary staffing of the district.
The Mosquito Fire Protection District is managed by a five-member Board of Directors, each elected to four-year terms. As mentioned above, the district operates as a combination paid/volunteer organization.
Chief Jack Rosevear is the current fire chief of the district. Preceding Jack as MFPD chief was Eddie Dwyer, Mike Hazlett, Chris Johns, Tom Stuart, Bob Davis, George Kellison, Leo Chaloux (20 years), Mel Guthrie, Paul Hinds and Bill Smith. The original MVFD Chiefs were Orval Beckett and Bill Reid.
Present equipment includes two engines, E75 (Type 1) and E275 (Type 2), one water tender T75 (Type 1), and a Squad, S75. In addition, MFPD is receiving a new OES- Type 6 Engine.
Mosquito is now and has always been a volunteer community. The District recognizes the value of every individual volunteer, with or without fire fighter experience. Chief Rosevear and his staff seek and promote volunteers with specialized skills such as medical, administrative, equipment repair, heavy equipment, construction, etc. The District has been fortunate to receive grants, including CalFire’s 50-50 grants and a substantial FEMA SAFER grant for volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention.
What’s more, MFPD has working relationships under a Joint Operations Agreement (JOA) with Georgetown, Garden Valley and Pioneer Fire Districts.
Unique in some respects to other rural fire departments, is the MFPD Support Group. The group is composed of community volunteers, and engaged in duties such as emergency traffic control, monitoring weather events, running errands, providing firefighter rehab, assisting with evacuations, operating fire hydrants and auxiliary pumps for water tender and helispot operations. Support Group members train together each month and are encouraged by the Chief to attend Tuesday night training to prepare them for on-site emergency protocols, radio operations, CPR/AED/first aid. They also perform such tasks such as hose testing and maintenance.
Support Group personnel stayed behind during the King Fire of September, 2014. These folks performed duties such as answering the phones, preparing meals, station maintenance (Station 75 was used as the command center), running errands to town, and printing area maps for out-of- state fire fighters. There is an excellent book about this event available on Amazon: “The King Fire, Memoirs of a Rural Community”.
Other local groups offering support to Station 75, and keeping residents connected with our community include the Mosquito Fire Safe Council, which has recently completed grant funded work to create shaded fuel breaks in areas within the community, developed a Community Wildfire Prevention Plan (CWPP) and in December 2020 obtained certification as an NFPA designated Firewise Community.
The Mosquito Firefighters’ Association, (MFA), is a 501(c)3 California non-profit corporation composed primarily of fire fighters, and is dedicated to fundraising for the District. It is in the process of developing a comprehensive post-Covid slate of activities and events.
The Swansboro Country Property Owners Association (SCPOA) maintains a close relationship with Station 75 and the Chief, offering support to emergency incidents. They also include an appropriation, within their annual budget, for fire prevention activities, including fuel reduction projects.
SCPOA and the Swansboro Pilot’s Association (SPA) support evacuation planning, exercises and emergency incidents at the community’s designated Temporary Refuge Area, the Swansboro Airport. The SPA also sponsors scholarships for firefighters and high school students.
All of these organizations work closely together to provide community support and education. Each organization helps to keep residents connected and informed.
Each group hosts various fun and important community events which residents and visitors look forward to.
All of these efforts are accomplished with help from community volunteers and some of them generate contributions that go to meet needs that are not covered in the MFPD budget.
Mosquito Station 75 is the epicenter of activity for our community, and always has been since its origin in 1973 .