Sandoval County District 16

The La Madera Fire District was originally founded in 1996. In 2005 the La Madera Fire Department became known as the La Madera Fire District of the Sandoval County Fire Department. The area served by the District is rapidly growing and is mostly a residential community.

We provide service to approximately 1,800 residents in the following communities:

  • Canyon Madera
  • Skyline Estates
  • San Pedro Creek Estates
  • San Pedro Overlook
  • Puertocito Road Residents

Volunteers also provide Mutual Aid to Bernalillo County Fire Department, Santa Fe County Fire Department (Edgewood) and the US Forest Service.

A History of the La Madera Volunteer Fire Department

Bernalillo County Fire Department District 6 (now known as Station 46) was a volunteer fire station in the Sandia Park area of the East Mountains providing fire and medical services to a broad response area that included La Madera Village in Sandoval County. After a fire destroyed a home and in-home restaurant owned by Richard Gibbs, he and Clark “Sparkie” Speakman, the Sandoval County Fire Marshal, convinced the Campbell Ranch developer to donate some land for a fire station. So, starts the history of La Madera VFD.


The land was part of the San Pedro Creek Estate (SPCE) in Phase III, “land locked” by lots owned by other residents and was Quick Claimed to Sandoval County by Campbell Ranch. Consisting of 5.11 acres in the northern part of Phase III, the parcel was and is located adjacent to the Pinon Park subdivision, the northern projection of what is commonly referred to as “La Madera”. On the 21st of December, Sparkie started an application to establish a new Sandoval County Fire District in the La Madera and San Pedro Creek Estate community. Sandoval County Commissioners passed Resolution 12-21-95-9B creating the new La Madera Volunteer Fire Department.

At the time, a barbwire fence with a padlocked “farm type” gate formed a physical barrier between La Madera and San Pedro Creek Estate. Roads in SPCE were wide and paved and roads in La Madera were narrow, loosely graveled, and often difficult to travel on during rain and snow. SPCE roads were maintained by the SPCE Homeowners Association using yearly dues and closed to non-residents. Residents did not want people from La Madera and elsewhere using “their road”, which provided convenient access to HWY 14. The padlocked gate didn’t just prevent the general public from using SPCE roads, it also made department access difficult for LMVFD firefighters. More on that later.

The first apparatus assigned to LMVFD were an ancient 1966 International Pumper with a 1000 GPM pump and an equally dated 2500 gallon 1972 Ford Water Tender, both with gas engines. The Tender came from the Public Works Department and was very slow in the hilly country of SPCE and La Madera. Both were clearly underpowered for the response area. It is believed that the Engine was stored for two years inside an unheated barn belonging to Richard Gibbs with the Tanker parked outside. Both vehicles were drained of water in the winter months, so go the stories.


In 1996, Sparkie applied to the State Fire Marshal Office to designate LMVFD as part of the Sandoval County Fire Department. The Quick Claim Deed was completed and logged into the Sandoval County Record in 1997.

That same year, a 40-foot by 60-foot heated metal shell with 3 bays was erected and became the La Madera Fire Station. It was later finished off with a meeting room, bath rooms, kitchen and a small office. The two apparatus were moved into the new fire station, but it was soon discovered that the Engine’s pump was cracked. Campbell Farm helped with the purchase of a new 1998 GMC Engine, which is still doing duty for the department. After an inspection by George Chavez, the new State Fire Marshal, the department started their probation year in 1998, the official start of La Madera Volunteer Fire Department.

1998 – 2000

The gate separating La Madera and San Pedro Creek Estate continued to create friction within and without the department. Members from the La Madera side responded to most of the calls during this period and were sometimes blocked at the gate. This culminated in the so-called “Gate War” incident. A volunteer from La Madera was responding to a fire page but found the gate padlocked. It was the last straw and he went back to his vehicle for his 6 shooter and shot the lock off the gate. He was so mad, he went back home. This story brings a smile and some laughter to others, but it’s true. The “Gate War” got Congress Woman Heather Wilson involved and in 2000 a Fire Chief for LMVFD was elected.

After several meetings between the SPCE Homeowners Association President, LMVFD Fire Chief, and Sandoval County Fire Marshal, it was agreed that a new electric gate with an automatic opening system would be placed on San Pedro Creek Estate property at the end of Via Entrada. All La Madera Volunteer Firefighters would have gate clickers so they could come and go without shooting off locks. Within the department, friction over the gate has all but disappeared, but outside the department it continues to this day.


A new Ford F350 4X4 chassis was purchased in 2001 using the ¼% fund. It replaced an old Dodge Power Wagon pickup on loan from New Mexico State Forestry. A high-pressure Scat Pump Unit and water tank were switched over from the old Dodge to the new Ford chassis along with a few First Aid supplies. There wouldn’t be any medically qualified members to use them for another year.

In 2002, Paul Bearce, a paramedic and Fire Chief for our sister department, taught an EMS First Responder course for about 15 LMVFD members. He later taught an EMT-Basic bridge course and 12 of the 15 became licensed EMT-Bs in 2003.

A well-used F350 Rescue vehicle was assigned to the department in 2003 allowing EMS responses for the first time. It remained in-service for the next 5 years and was replaced in 2008 by a new F350 4X4 Diesel chassis with a re-conditioned rescue box. About this time, the Tecolote Auxiliary was formed by SPCE community volunteers with the mission of providing moral and financial support to the department.

Also in 2003, a Titan tandem axle trailer was purchased under a BLM grant for wildland support. It contained a HPX300 18-HP Hale Pump, two-2000 gallon pumpkins, along with assorted wildland hand tools also purchased with the BLM Grant. The trailer continues to be outfitted with additional equipment and is now listed by the state as a wildland Resource Mobilization Plan asset.

In 2004, La Madera Volunteer Fire Department became a Fire District in the newly formed Sandoval County Fire Department managed by a newly hired County Fire Chief. Ten LMVFD Members completed the Firefighter I course and were outfitted in new bunker gear. Two used steel tanks were purchased and installed at the station along with a hydrant providing 20,000 gallons of gravity feed water storage. San Pedro Creek homeowners also purchased two 6,000 fiberglass water tanks that were buried at strategic locations within the sub-division for fire protection.


A new Rescue Bay was added to the South side of the main fire station in 2006 using ¼% funds. Unfortunately, the driveway was sloped and caused flooding into the bay after heavy rains and had to be redesigned. Two members started Firefighter II classes at the New Mexico Firefighter Academy in Socorro became and certified a year later in 2007.


LMVFD received a new 3,000-gallon water tender in 2008. It came with a labeled pump capacity of 500 GPM, but tested at over 1000 GPM making it a suitable stand-in for a pumper.

The next four years flew by. The Tecolote Auxiliary continued to support the department by purchasing much needed EMS equipment such as a reconditioned LifePak 12 and CPR Mankins. Two members completed the “Train the Trainer” on CPR and First Aid. They have gone on to hold CPR/First Aid courses for residents and CPR refreshers for the department. Around 2013, the department started an initiative to train and qualify members in wildland and Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) firefighting. Four years later, with a lot of hands-on training and field experience along with financial help from Tecolote, the department has a fully outfitted Tactical tender (T28-2), a Type 6 engine (BR28), and three qualified Engine Bosses. LMVFD is regularly called upon to supply resources to in-state and out-of-state wildland fires.


Tecolote Auxiliary paid for a much-needed water tank for Brush 28 in 2014. The old one had been patched some many times that the patches were now coming apart.

2015 was the year of the west coast burning. Four Members from Sandoval County Fire, 2 from LMVFD and 2 from Pena Blanco, were sent to California on Brush 28 on what turned out to be a 21-day deployment. They provided severity support to Pacifica Ranger Station in the Eldorado Forest, which was depleted of crews and apparatus sent to the northern fires, and later, to the Lake Tahoe Management Unit, which suffered from the same problem. Brush 28 stayed another 12 days with a relief crew of 3 firefighters from Sandoval County.

A used 30,000-gallon water tank was purchased by Tecolote from a local water co-op that was installing a replacement tank for their water system. Sandoval County Fire Department helped with moving the tank. A grant from Edgewood Soil & Water Conservation District was used to purchase a fire hydrant and piping. The installed tank brought the total fire protection water to 60,000 gallons, no doubt helping with our ISO Rating in years to come.

This is a short history of the La Madera Volunteer Fire District (Department). La Madera VFD started in 1998 with no trained Volunteer Firefighters and now, in 2017, has a group of highly trained and certified Volunteer Firefighters that spend countless hours in meetings, required trainings, and further education to meet the needs of their neighbors, their communities, and Sandoval County Fire Department.

A big thanks to each Volunteer Firefighter in La Madera from the District Fire Chief!

Another thanks goes to Tecolote Auxiliary and the Community which supports our efforts.

Thanks to You ALL.

Duty. Honor. Community.