In a State as large and populated as California, no one emergency response agency can do it all. That is why cooperative efforts via contracts and agreements between state, federal and local agencies are essential in response to emergencies like wildland and structure fires, floods, earthquakes, hazardous material spills, and medical aids.
The CAL FIRE Cooperative Fire Protection Program staff are responsible for coordinating those agreements and contracts for the Department. It is because of these cooperative efforts that you may see fire engines and firefighters from different agencies at the scene of an emergency, working under a unified command relationship.
It is also because of these agreements that CAL FIRE may be the department responsible for providing dispatch, paramedic, fire, and rescue services in numerous cities and towns that are not designated as state responsibility throughout California.
Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant
The Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Program is a Federally-funded grant program that allows California to provide local and rural fire departments with minor firefighting, training, communications and safety equipment for their volunteer firefighters. The VFA Program is not intended for major equipment (fire engines, vehicles, etc) or Capital repairs. The VFA Program has a 50/50 match requirement which means that the applying department must be able to meet the intended grant award, dollar for dollar. Awards for departments are set at a minimum of $500 with a maximum of $20,000. Amounts may be adjusted based on the grant funding available. For additional information please contact Megan Esfandiary at Megan.Esfandiary@fire.ca.gov or Doug Ferro at D.Michael.Ferro@fire.ca.gov.
- 2019 VFA Solicitation Letter (PDF)
- 2019 VFA Procedural Guide (PDF)
- 2019 VFA Grant Application (PDF)
Under what is known as the California Master Mutual Aid Agreement, CAL FIRE assists other fire departments within the State when Department resources are available, regardless of the type of disaster. In turn, CAL FIRE can access the local government fire departments through the same agreement for assistance in wildland fire suppression.
The Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) can also request that CAL FIRE assist with non-fire emergencies when the Governor has declared a State of Emergency. That was the case during the Northridge earthquake of 1993 and the statewide floods of 1997, when CAL FIRE provided flood-fighting crews and incident management and logistical support services.
When wildland fires rage across the state and resources are stretched thin, agreements with the California Military Department provide for California National Guard resources. This includes activation of the giant C-130 aircraft known as Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), helicopters, support personnel, communications equipment, and other specialized resources.
Since the 1940s, local government entities such as cities, counties and districts have contracted with CAL FIRE to provide many forms of emergency services for their communities. CAL FIRE provides full-service fire protection to many of the citizens of California through the administration of 145 cooperative fire protection agreements in 33 of the State's 58 counties, 30 cities, 32 fire districts and 25 other special districts and service areas. As a full-service fire department CAL FIRE responds to wildland fires, structure fires, floods, hazardous material spills, swift water rescues, civil disturbances, earthquakes, and medical emergencies of all kinds. Local governments are able to utilize this diversity and experience through their contracts and agreements with the Department.
The following Counties have Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements with CAL FIRE. Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements can be for a wide variety of services depending upon a local government entities needs.
San Luis Obispo
The following Cities have Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements with CAL FIRE. Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements can be for a wide variety of services depending upon a local government entities needs. CAL FIRE provides service to all the cities listed below. Service provided to cities within Riverside County is provided through cooperative agreements with Riverside County Fire. CAL FIRE provides service to Riverside County Fire through a cooperative agreement.
Fire Protection Districts
The following Fire Protection Districts have Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements with CAL FIRE. Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements can be for a wide variety of services depending upon a local government entities needs.
Fresno County FPD
San Miguel FPD
County Service Areas
The following County Service Areas (CSA) have Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements with CAL FIRE. Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements can be for a wide variety of services depending upon a local government entities needs.
|Fresno/Shaver Lake CSA #31
Pajaro Dunes CSA #1
San Mateo CSA#1
Siskiyou/McCloud CSA #4
Community Service Districts
The following Community Service Districts have Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements with CAL FIRE. Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements can be for a wide variety of services depending upon a local government entities needs.
Pebble Beach CSD
The following Water Districts have Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements with CAL FIRE. Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements can be for a wide variety of services depending upon a local government entities needs.
Arrowbear County Water District
Metropolitan Water District
Upper Llagas Creek MWD
Donner Summit Public Utility District
Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Joint College District
Wildland Fire Agreements
The following Cities have Wildland Fire Protection Agreements with CAL FIRE. These agreements augment existing city fire department resources specifically for wildland fire fighting services.
The largest of CAL FIRE's cooperative programs involves an agreement for the exchange of fire protection services with federal wildland fire agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and National Parks Service (NPS). The goal is to have the closest agency respond to a wildfire, regardless of jurisdiction. Through this cooperative relationship, California is able to access federal and state resources throughout the United States to help in times of disaster, when Department resources are depleted. In turn, CAL FIRE provides assistance, through interstate compact agreements to the Federal and other state wildfire agencies throughout the nation.
CAL FIRE is currently authorized to operate 39 Conservation Camps statewide that house nearly 4,300 inmates and wards. These camps are operated in conjunction with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Through these cooperative efforts CAL FIRE is authorized to operate 196 fire crews year-round. These crews are available to respond to all types of emergencies including wildfires, floods, search and rescue, and earthquakes. When not responding to emergencies, the crews are busy with conservation and community service work projects for state, federal, and local government agencies. Fire crews perform several million hours of emergency response each year, and more on work projects.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is responsible for fire protection within State Responsibility Areas (SRA). SRA is found in 56 of California's 58 counties and totals more than 31 million acres.
In most cases SRA is protected directly by CAL FIRE, however, in Kern, Los Angeles, Marin, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, SRA fire protection is provided by the counties under contract with CAL FIRE. Known as "Contract Counties", they protect 3.4 million acres of SRA.
CAL FIRE provides funding to the six counties for fire protection services including wages of suppression crews, lookouts, maintenance of fire fighting facilities, fire prevention assistants, pre-fire management positions, dispatch, special repairs, and administrative services. The Department's budget also provides for infrastructure improvements, and expanded fire fighting needs when fires grow beyond initial attack.
Contract Counties are responsible for providing initial response to fires on SRA. When a wildland fire escapes this initial attack, CAL FIRE responds with fire fighting resources to assist the county.
Currently, the state funds 68 fire stations, 82 fire engines, 12 bulldozers, 10 fire prevention officers, and portions of the 6 emergency command centers in the six counties.
CAL FIRE continues to provide other services to Contract Counties including urban forestry grants, support during earthquakes, floods, and other disasters, and the services of California State Fire Marshal which was consolidated into CAL FIRE in 1995.