The Department grew from 31 men in 1854 to 285 men in 1961 and now stands at 721 personnel. The population in San Jose in 1850 was 1,500, in 1961 was 250,000 and now nearly 1,000,000. The area covered in 1850 was 1 ½ square miles, in 1961 was 68 square miles and is now over 200.
In 1980 the department was one of the first in the nation to operate a hazardous materials response team. And in 1995 the department began Advanced Life Support service by placing a fire fighter paramedic on every engine, citywide. The Department operates its own Training Center and Fire Communications Center , Company Stores and Air Room.
The three original Fire Companies, Empire, Torrent, and Young America started what is today a 31 station department, staffing 31 engine companies, eight truck companies and three USAR companies, with five battalions each managed by a battalion chief. Members of the department work 24 hour shifts on a 3 on 4 off schedule. The department responds to over 70,000 calls each year. The annual operating budget for the department in 2002-2003 was $107,000,000.