CAL FIRE San Mateo-Santa Cruz Chief's Message

May 2016 - The origins of the unit date back to the 1920’s under the newly formed Santa Clara-San Mateo-Santa Cruz Ranger District within the California Division of Forestry (CDF). In 1921, the first state lookout was erected and was placed in the Santa Cruz Mountains, known as Mt. Bielawski. This lookout was the first of its kind as it also served as a communication point for Big Basin Park which was placed under the control of the State Board of Forestry (in 1905) until 1927 when the park was turned over to the newly formed California Division of Beaches and Parks.

Today, the CAL FIRE San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit proudly protects 416,290 acres of State Responsibility Area (SRA) and 183,707 acres of local responsibility lands. These lands include privately owned rural properties and timberland, open space land, state and county parks, and sensitive government owned watershed lands that provide our drinking water. The unit consists primarily of rural, recreational, agricultural, and some urban areas.

The unit has provided cooperative fire protection since 1948. With the combination of state, county, and local fire district resources, the citizens and visitors of San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties benefit from a cost effective organizational structure. The collective effort of this cooperative system is provided by CAL FIRE, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz County, Pajaro Dunes (CSA#4), and the Fire Protection Districts of Pajaro Valley and Coastside. Together, we protect 61 miles of coastline stretching from the City of Pacifica to the City of Santa Cruz. The unit staffs 17 paid fire stations and supports 8 County Fire funded volunteer fire companies that respond to over 8,700 emergency incidents a year including wildland fires, structure fires, and vehicle vehicle accidents/fires, medical aids, cliff/water rescues, and hazardous material incidents.

As the Unit Chief, I am very proud of our 260 paid (fire fighters and support staff) and 110 volunteers that serve and protect our citizens and visitors 24/7.


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