Source: CAL FIRE
January 21, 2017 (San Diego's East County) - Though CAL FIRE is most often highlighted in its role as a wildland fire fighting agency, the Department’s forces answer the call more than 300,000 times for other emergencies each year. During the 1990s CAL FIRE was called upon several times to respond to serious flooding in the state.
In 1997, rains devastated California by swelling rivers and lakes, collapsing levees, and forcing entire communities to evacuate. At the request of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), CAL FIRE committed over 2500 personnel to help sandbag public and private property, remove flood and storm debris, and help save lives. Over 150 hand crews were deployed, which was more than 75 percent of CAL FIRE’s total crew capability for the State. In addition, CAL FIRE sent three Incident Management Teams, four mobile kitchen units, and four mobile communication centers to hard hit areas of California.
As a direct result of CAL FIRE’s efforts lives and property were saved, prompting landowners and public officials alike to express extreme gratitude to the Department. Almost on a nightly basis, CAL FIRE crews were seen assisting flood victims on local news. This coverage represented just a few of the hundreds of acts performed by CAL FIRE employees across the State, sometimes at the risk of loss of life.
In 1998, CAL FIRE, along with many other emergency response personnel statewide, once again battled water and mud as Mother Nature dumped heavy rains throughout the state. CAL FIRE played a major role in the operations of a mobilization center in Northern California. The multi-jurisdictional center relied on the Department to provide everything from food to showers, fuel to mechanics, equipment to sleeping bags, and mobile communications to finance administration.
CAL FIRE has long been recognized for its ability for rapid emergency deployment, effective large incident logistical support, and incident management leadership. Crews once again distinguished themselves during the flooding of 1997 and 1998.