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.
Preventing wildfires in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) is a vital part of CAL FIRE's mission. While these efforts have occurred since the early days of the Department, CAL FIRE has adapted to the evolving destructive wildfires and succeeded in significantly increasing its efforts in fire prevention. The Department's Fire Prevention Program consists of multiple activities including wildland pre-fire engineering, vegetation management, fire planning, education and law enforcement. Typical fire prevention projects include brush clearance, prescribed fire, defensible space inspections, emergency evacuation planning, fire prevention education, fire hazard severity mapping, and fire-related law enforcement activities.
Beyond its wildland firefighting role, CAL FIRE is an "all-risk" department. 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.
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. 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. 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. Additional forestry programs include urban forestry, archaeology, pest management, etc.