California Department Of Forestry And Fire Protection

California is the third-largest state in the country and covers an area of nearly 160,000 square miles with a coastline over 840 miles long. San Bernardino County is the largest county in the United States, covering an area as large as Connecticut...


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California is the third-largest state in the country and covers an area of nearly 160,000 square miles with a coastline over 840 miles long. San Bernardino County is the largest county in the United States, covering an area as large as Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. California's diverse landscape includes hills, mountains, brush, grass, forests, coastal plains, valleys, basins, deserts, rivers and lakes. The state's huge population is a true "melting pot" of over 30 million people.

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Photo Courtesy of CDF
CDF crew-carrying vehicles (CCVs) transport inmate hand crews to incidents. Each CCV carries 20 persons, tools, saws, food and supplies with a CDF captain in command. There are 193 CCVs in service.

California has had a dramatic and catastrophic history of man-caused and natural disasters that include earthquakes, floods, mud slides, explosions, wildfires and massive structural wildland interzone (SWI) fires. In addition to more than 900 local fire and emergency response agencies that defend California from these emergencies is the state-funded agency called the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF). The following is a profile of this "all-hazards" emergency response state agency.

The CDF Mission Statement. CDF protects the people of California from fires, responds to emergencies and protects and en-hances forest, ranges, and watershed values providing social, economic and environmental benefits to rural and urban citizens.

The department. CDF is the largest multi-purpose fire protection agency in the United States and is directly responsible for wildland fire protection of over 31 million acres of California's privately owned watershed lands. In addition, CDF also provides full-service protection to nearly 11 million additional acres of land under reimbursement agreements with local governments.

The heart of CDF's fire suppression efforts is an aggressive initial attack strategy. The department's goal is to contain 95% of all wildland fires to 10 acres or less. This goal has been consistently met. At the same time, recognizing that some fires will escape initial attack and become larger than 10 acres, CDF maintains a firefighting force of 3,800 full-time fire professionals, foresters and administrative employees; 1,400 seasonal personnel; 5,500 local government volunteer firefighters; 2,600 volunteers in fire prevention; and 3,800 inmates and wards who work aggressively to prevent and suppress wildfires.

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Photo Courtesy of CDF
CDF Model 14/Type 3 wildland engine is equipped with a 500-gallon tank and Class A foam system.


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Photo Courtesy of CDF
CDF Model 18/Type 2 interface engine is equipped with a 700-gallon tank and Class A foam system. It can be used for wildland or structural fire protection.

Administrative units. CDF is divided into two regions with 22 ranger units, statewide. Within these ranger units, CDF operates 635 fire stations (230 state-funded and 405 locally funded stations). Also staffed are 24 lookout fire towers, 39 conservation camps for California's Corrections and Youth Authority, two fire centers in cooperation with the California Conservation Corps, 13 air attack bases and nine helitack bases.

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Photo by Robert M. Winston
Members of the Rainbow Conservation Camp Crew are female inmates commanded by CDF fire officers. The inmates wear orange wildland fire suits and officers wear yellow suits.

CDF operates 1,027 engines (338 state-funded and 689 locally funded engines), 103 rescue squads, 12 aerial ladder trucks, 58 bulldozer units, five mobile communications centers and 11 mobile kitchen units. CDF also funds 82 engines and 12 bulldozers used to protect State Responsibility Areas in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Kern and Marin. Today, CDF has contractual agreements with 33 of the 58 counties in California.

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