The men and women of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) are dedicated to the fire protection and stewardship of over 31 million acres of California's privately-owned wildlands. In addition, the Department provides varied emergency services in 36 of the State's 58 counties via contracts with local governments.
The Department's firefighters, fire engines, and aircraft respond to an average of more than 5,600 wildland fires each year. Those fires burn more than 172,000 acres annually.
While Californians are learning more and more about the good as well as the bad of fire, the prevention of large, damaging fires remains a priority for CAL FIRE. From Smokey Bear, to the thousands of CAL FIRE Volunteers in Prevention (VIPs), to new alliances with communities, private industry, and government agencies, aggressive action in fire prevention and fire safety is occurring throughout the State.
Beyond its wildland fire fighting role, CAL FIRE answers the call more than 350,000 times for other emergencies each year. It may very well be a CAL FIRE engine and crew that is dispatched to the scene of an auto accident, or to a home where a child has become the victim of a drowning incident. The Department is always ready to respond - medical aids; hazardous material spills; swiftwater rescues; search and rescue missions; civil disturbances; train wrecks; floods, earthquakes and more.
Because of the Department's size and major incident management experience, it is often asked to assist or take the lead in disasters, including the Northern and Central California floods of 1997, 1998, and 2006; the 1991 Cantara train derailment and toxic spill; 1994 Northridge earthquake; 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake; the 1991 Tunnel Fire in the Oakland/Berkeley Hills; and the 2003 Southern California Fire Siege.
As part of the CAL FIRE team since 1995, the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) supports the CAL FIRE mission to protect life and property through fire prevention engineering programs, law and code enforcement and education. The OSFM provides for fire prevention by enforcing fire-related laws in state-owned or operated buildings, investigating arson fires in California, licensing those who inspect and service fire protection systems, approving fireworks as safe and sane for use in California, regulating the use of chemical flame retardants, evaluating building materials against fire safety standards, regulating hazardous liquid pipelines, and tracking incident statistics for local and state government emergency response agencies.
The OSFM, State Fire Training, and CAL FIRE Academy programs provide training education and certification programs for the California Fire Service. Through practical training exercises and classroom courses, every California firefighter is exposed to training standards that have been approved by CAL FIRE and OSFM, each among the best institutions in the nation for fire training education. Offering more than 1,000 classes annually, State Fire Training programs reach over 24,000 students each year and have issued over 100,000 certifications to members of the more than 900 fire California fire departments. Each year over 2,000 personnel attend the CAL FIRE Academy in Ione, California participating in courses ranging from basic fire control and arson investigation, to leadership development and forest practice enforcement.
CAL FIRE's mission emphasizes the management and protection of California's natural resources; a goal that is accomplished through ongoing assessment and study of the State's natural resources and an extensive CAL FIRE Resource Management Program. CAL FIRE oversees enforcement of California's forest practice regulations, which guide timber harvesting on private lands. Department foresters review an average 500 to 1,400 Timber Harvesting Plans (THPs) and conduct over 6,500 site inspections each year. THPs are submitted by private landowners and logging companies who want to harvest their trees. The reviews and inspections ensure protection of watershed and wildlife, as well as renewal of timber resources. Department foresters and fire personnel work closely to encourage and implement fuels management projects to reduce the threat of uncontrolled wildfires. Vegetation management projects such as "controlled burns" take teamwork between foresters, firefighters, landowners, and the local communities. CAL FIRE Foresters promote conservation and the importance of our trees and forests to Californians of all ages.
CAL FIRE manages eight Demonstration State Forests that provide for commercial timber production, public recreation, and research and demonstration of good forest management practices. CAL FIRE foresters can be found in urban areas working to increase the number of trees planted in our cities, or preventing the spread of disease by identifying and removing infected trees. A Native American burial ground in the path of a logging operation or fire may be verified and saved due to a CAL FIRE archaeologist's review of the area. And, an improved strain of trees, resistant to disease and pests, may be nurtured and introduced by a CAL FIRE forester.
What is CAL FIRE? It is many things for the citizens of the State, and we encourage you to check this web site regularly for new and updated information.