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Homegrown Fire Chief Serving Oakdale, Riverbank Communities
Tietjen OAK
Fire Chief Tim Tietjen grew up in Riverbank and raised a family in Oakdale. His career has come full circle and his connection with the community is strong, currently serving as fire chief for both cities. Photo By Virginia Still

Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District (SCFPD) has had several changes throughout the years and most recently has obtained a new administrative contract with the Modesto Fire Department. With this new contract, Tim Tietjen has accepted the role as Fire Chief for SCFPD in Riverbank and is at Station 26 running things on a daily basis.

Tietjen is an Assistant Chief for Modesto Fire and has also taken on fire chief duties for the city of Oakdale and Oakdale Fire Protection District. Oakdale agreed on a full contract for services with Modesto Fire in 2019. Modesto Fire Chief Alan Ernst provides the overall management of the department and oversees contracts with the cities MPD covers.

The Modesto Fire contract with SCFPD began in February this year and is for administrative services only. It is not a full contract and the employees are still SCFPD employees. Other internal agency agreements also remain with the SCFPD.

With the cities of Ceres and Oakdale that are on full contracts with Modesto Fire, everything is handled through the City of Modesto including the employees, human resources, and payroll.

“We’re pretty well entrenched in the community,” said Tietjen in regards to the full Oakdale contract since 2019. “We know that when we come in, and a lot of people will look at Modesto as this large agency that is going to gobble up these communities, or they will lose their identity and it’s surely not the case. It’s really that we embrace that local flair and the local connection to the fire department. And we take it very seriously that we are their fire department and our level of service to the community is important to us.”

Other agencies have done a similar type of contract according to Tietjen, like Sacramento Metro, LA County, and Alameda County. Riverbank has a similar contract for law enforcement with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department for Riverbank Police Services, managed by Chief Ed Ridenour.

Although his office is in Riverbank, Tietjen continues his responsibilities to the city of Oakdale attending executive team meetings, city council meetings, and board meetings for Oakdale Fire Protection District as well as Stanislaus Consolidated.

Modesto Fire and SCFPD have worked together through MST (Modesto, Stanislaus Consolidated, and Turlock) and several of the firefighters know each other as they have gone to the academy, training and grown up in the fire service together.

Tietjen is not new to the community, as he was born and raised in Riverbank. He attended school in Riverbank and graduated from Riverbank High School in 1992. His father was a volunteer firefighter when he was a kid. He recalls hearing the fire sirens that would go off and wanting to chase the engines to see where they were going and watch the firefighters.

“I got hired very shortly after high school, very young,” said Tietjen. “I was very fortunate to get hired at 18 with the City of Oakdale Fire Department. I had been a volunteer there for a short time.”

Tietjen has been part of the fire department for 29 years, originally starting as an Oakdale volunteer in 1993.

He moved to Oakdale, met his wife and started a family. He has three boys; two are in Texas and the youngest one just got hired on with Modesto Fire after working with CalFire and in Los Banos.

With a strong connection to the area, Chief Tietjen left Oakdale and joined the Modesto Fire Department in 2003 where he rose through the ranks serving as a firefighter, engineer, Captain, Battalion Chief, Division Chief, and currently Assistant Chief and as Fire Chief for SCFPD and Oakdale.

“The draw here was the tie back to the community where I grew up,” stated Tietjen. “And so when this opportunity came along, you know, I made sure the Chief knew that I wanted to be involved out here. So he saw fit to assign me to that and so I imagine that’s where I’m going to end my career is out here and helping these communities where I grew up.”

He is very passionate about the community and encourages everyone to reach out to the fire department. They participate in several community events like recently at National Night Out and they will have a crew out at the Centennial Celebration in Riverbank on Saturday, Aug. 20. They also visit schools and attend career fairs. In Oakdale in October, they will participate in a Bike Festival organized by the Kiwanis Club.

“I would highly encourage the citizens to get to know their firefighters,” expressed Tietjen. “I think that it’s important for us, like I said in the beginning, that we believe in customer service and one of the things that is my top priority, and number one priority is that we take care of our citizens. We consider it a very high honor and privilege to climb on those fire engines and serve our community and we don’t take that lightly.”

Being in the fire service in this area for over 20 years, Tietjen knows a lot of the history and is very familiar with the chiefs that came before him including Chief Preston Tucker that has a street named for him in Riverbank, Chief Dan Reeves, and Chief Russ Richards that were all founders of SCFPD project 94.

“The legacies of those gentlemen live on today in this fire service, in this fire agency, in this county really so it is really cool to see a lot of that history that started here,” added Tietjen.

He also said he would like the community to know that whether the patch on the uniform is Modesto Fire or SCFPD, “the reality is, is that the people who climb on those fire engines and serve the citizens of the community are all alike. We all have a servant’s heart and we all want to do the right thing by the citizens and help people in their time of need.”