CAL FIRE Continues to Increase Staffing as Fire Threat Increases

Firefighter In ActionApril 11, 2014 - Additional Seasonal Firefighters to be Hired from Shasta to Santa Cruz

After several March storms, temperatures have gone back up and California’s wildfire activity level has returned to above average. Starting Monday, April 14, CAL FIRE will hire nearly 100 additional seasonal firefighters that will be stationed from Shasta County down to Santa Cruz County; a move several months earlier than normal.

“The rain in March was needed, but the drought continues to have a strong hold on California,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “With temperatures back on the rise, so is the potential for large wildfires.”

Since late January, CAL FIRE has been staffing fire equipment in Northern California. Monday’s hiring will allow the department to train additional seasonal firefighters and staff more equipment in Shasta, Trinity, Tehama, Glenn, Butte, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz counties. On March 31, CAL FIRE increased seasonal staffing in the Sacramento foothills and Bay Area.

“Over the last several months we have seen an unseasonable number of wildfires across Northern California,” said Chief Doug Wenham, CAL FIRE northern region chief. “Our weather forecast continues to show an increased potential in Northern California for large wildfires.”

Between January 1 and April 5, CAL FIRE has responded to approximately 900 wildfires that have charred nearly 2,400 acres. In an average year for the same time period, CAL FIRE would typically respond to fewer than 340 wildfires for just over 1,000 acres.

CAL FIRE continues to ask homeowners to ensure that they are prepared for wildfires by maintaining 100 feet of Defensible Space. For more information on preparing for wildfires and Defensible Space visit

Visit to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought, and for more water conservation ideas, visit

March 28, 2014 - Additional Seasonal Firefighters Hired From Sacramento Foothills to LA Basin

Despite recent rainfall, CAL FIRE continues to respond to a significant increase in wildfires across much of California. While March rain totals were higher than this winter, the rain has done little to combat drought conditions. Starting Monday, March 31, CAL FIRE will begin hiring additional seasonal firefighters in Central California, the Bay Area region and the Sacramento foothills.
“Even with rain in March, our fire activity has remained 200 percent more over average statewide,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “The rain has been great, but it has not been enough to make up for our dry winter and California’s drought.

 “This week’s rainfall has stayed relatively in the North, but the medium and heavy brush and timber along the Central Coast and Southern end of the state remain critically dry,” said Chief Thom Porter, CAL FIRE assistant southern region chief. “A recent fire in Monterey County charred 400 acres with extreme intensity, despite the humidity being above 80 percent.”

March 28, 2014 - CAL FIRE Moves to Peak Staffing in Southern California

Starting Monday, March 31, CAL FIRE will move to peak staffing levels in San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. While CAL FIRE never was able to transition out of fire season in 2013, the return to peak staffing means all equipment and facilities will be staffed around the clock. The move comes several months earlier than normal, but is needed as spring temperatures rise and dry out conditions even more.

February 11, 2014 - CAL FIRE Increases Firefighter Staffing in Central Valley

Despite recent rain, California has not received enough rainfall to make up for this winter’s dry weather pattern and the third dry year in a row. As a result, continued drought conditions and wildfires have required CAL FIRE to hire several dozen seasonal firefighters earlier than normal across the Central Valley and Central Sierra.
“The recent rainfall is not enough for us to let our guard down,” said Chief Dale Hutchinson, CAL FIRE Southern Region Chief. “Though the rain is great in the short term, even if it rained straight for several months, we wouldn’t catch up to the amount of rainfall we need.”

The additional seasonal firefighter hiring includes 15 firefighters in CAL FIRE's Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit, 14 in the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit, and 12 in the Fresno-Kings Unit. The additional firefighters come just one week after nearly two dozen seasonal firefighters were hired in Tulare County.

February 6, 2014 - CAL FIRE Increases Firefighter Staffing in Tulare County

Prolonged drought conditions and an increase in wildfire activity have prompted CAL FIRE to hire additional firefighters in Tulare County. The hiring of nearly two dozen seasonal firefighters allows CAL FIRE to augment its staffing of fire engines and equipment that the department’s permanent firefighters have been doing for the past several months throughout the Central Valley and Sierra. In addition to the seasonal firefighters, CAL FIRE has also reopened its air base in Porterville to allow for the reloading of airtankers as needed.

January 28, 2014 - Drought Prompts CAL FIRE to Increase Statewide Staffing

With unseasonably high temperatures, limited rainfall and moisture levels resembling the state’s peak fire season, CAL FIRE announced today that it has hired 125 supplemental firefighters in Northern California and extended seasonal firefighting forces in Southern California due to dry winter conditions.

Today’s announcement follows Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s drought State of Emergency earlier this month.

“In order to maintain a sufficient depth of resources to address the prolonged, elevated threat of wildfire due to drought, we have staffed 25 additional fire engines and have retained aerial firefighting assets at five air attack bases that would normally be closed this time of year,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CAL FIRE. “We have a well exercised mechanism for addressing short term elevations in the threat of wildfire, but these prolonged conditions warrant an even more aggressive action in order for us to be prepared to protect the people, property and natural resources of California.”

In Northern California, CAL FIRE is adding two additional fire engines in each of the 12 northern administrative units plus a third fire engine in the Shasta-Trinity Unit. In addition, the Chico Air Attack Base has been re-opened with two fixed wing aircraft.

In Southern California, aircraft and staffing at Hemet (Riverside County), Ramona (San Diego County) Hollister (San Benito County) and Paso Robles (San Luis Obispo County) air attack bases have been kept on allowing for eight air tankers, and four air tactical planes to be immediately available.

NOTE: The application period for the seasonal firefighter positions has closed. The individuals being hired are based on those applications. The 2015 Fire Season application process typically begins in November.

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