3540 Department of Forestry & Fire Protection
Program Descriptions


The State Fire Marshal is responsible for the statewide protection of life and property through the development and application of fire protection engineering, education and enforcement. Activities include the following:
  • Code Development and Analysis: Objectives include the development and adoption of codes relating to fire/life safety used statewide by local fire and building authorities. The program also operates the California All-Incident Reporting System, which collects and analyzes incident response data provided by local fire departments.
  • Fire and Life Safety: Objectives include the application of laws and regulations related to fire prevention and life safety. This is achieved through code compliance inspections of new and existing buildings and plan review of State-Owned and State-Occupied projects as mandated by Health and Safety Code Sections 13108, 13143, 13145 and 13146, and includes local jails, high rise and areas not covered by a local fire department. The program also assists local fire and building authorities in the interpretation and enforcement of fire/life safety regulations within their respective jurisdictions
  • Fire Engineering: This program uses a multi-pronged approach toward reducing or eliminating fire risks/hazards and changing the fire environment. Consumer services and product evaluations are conducted on portable fire extinguishers, fire sprinkler/extinguishing systems, dangerous and consumer fireworks, flame retardant fabrics/chemicals, vapor recovery devices and building materials listing services. Other activities include coordination of hazardous materials and California Unified Program Account services to local fire officials as well as a liaison role for fire/life safety standards between the fire service and the film/entertainment industry.
  • Pipeline Safety: This program regulates approximately 5,800 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines that transport crude oil and refined products (e.g., gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, etc.) between offshore platforms, production fields, refineries and marine terminals. Regulated pipelines do not include those within production fields, marine terminals or refineries. The program has been designated as a federal agent for the inspection of pipeline safety standards for interstate pipelines since 1987.
  • State Fire Training: The program provides a comprehensive training and certification service to local fire agencies. Activities include the California Fire Service Training and Education System and Fire Service Training and Education Program.


CAL FIRE provides fire protection to keep damages to life, property and natural resources within social, political and economic constraints. The objective is to quickly and aggressively attack all fires in areas where CAL FIRE has assumed primary direct protection responsibility by virtue of law, contract or agreement until the fire is under control. The level of initial attack and follow-up action is relative to values threatened and control difficulty with the goal to control all unwanted fires within the first burning period.

11.10 - Fire Prevention:
This program focuses on the most effective methods, materials and procedures to remove or mitigate physical risks and hazards and to enforce pertinent laws for the reduction of fire incidents. More specifically, efforts focus on what needs to be done before a wildland fire starts in order to reduce the costs of fire fighting, property loss, injury to fire fighters and damage to the environment.

11.30 - Fire Control:
The objective of this program is to detect, respond and suppress wildland fires in or threatening State Responsibility Areas. The heart of the effort is an aggressive initial attack strategy. CAL FIRE's goal is to contain 95 percent of all wildfires to 10 acres or less. This is achieved through detection, ground attack, air attack and mutual aid using fire engines, fire crews, bulldozers, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

11.40 - Cooperative Fire Protection:
CAL FIRE provides a full range of fire protection services to local, county, state and federal agencies throughout California through the administration of approximately 150 cooperative government agreements. Additionally, there are six long standing agreements wherein counties provide wildland fire protection on behalf of the Department.

11.60 - Conservation Camps:
CAL FIRE, in cooperation with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Divisions of Adult Operations and Juvenile Justice, operates 39 conservation camps throughout the state which house 196 fire crews. These crews provide one of the primary labor forces for firefighting, emergency response, and conservation related work projects.

11.80 - Emergency Fire Suppression:
CAL FIRE incurs additional emergency fire suppression expenditures when budgeted initial attack forces are unable to cope with a wildland fire within the initial attack period. Portions of these costs may be reimbursed in the fiscal year the expense was incurred or in a future fiscal year via Fire Management Assistance Grants provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or through cost shares provided by other government entities. In addition, CAL FIRE may recover portions of this cost through civil cost recovery actions authorized by state statutes.


California's state and private forest, range, watershed lands and urban forests provide multiple human, climate and environmental benefits. The objective of this program is to maintain and enhance those benefits and to minimize damage to these resources from natural catastrophes and human development. Objectives are met by regulation of timber harvesting, coordination of climate related activities for the forest sector, technical assistance to non-industrial landowners, operation of state demonstration forests, operation of forest nurseries, vegetation management projects and administration of federal forestry assistance programs.

12.10 - Resources Protection and Improvement:
The objective of this program is to improve forest lands and urban forests. Activities include the detection, evaluation and control of forest pests; growing and selling tree seedlings for reforestation, carbon sequestration, and soil erosion control; maintenance of a native conifer seed bank; advice and assistance to non-industrial forest landowners on management of forests and improved harvesting and conservation practices; research on and demonstration of sustainable forestry in state forests; implementation of the California Forest Improvement Act of 1978; technical assistance and grants to foster the environmental, social, and economic benefits of urban forests consistent with the California Urban Forestry Act of 1978; and purchase and monitoring of working forest conservation easements per the California Forest Legacy Act of 2008. In the area of vegetation management, assistance is provided to public and private landowners to achieve land use objectives by reducing damage from wildland fires, increase wildlife habitat, increase productivity of forest and rangelands, improve water yields and air quality, reduce carbon emissions from wildland fires, increase firefighter safety, and maintain desirable ecosystems. CAL FIRE cooperates with federal, state and local agencies, local organizations, and private property owners to develop and achieve land use objectives. Activities include removal, rearrangement, conversion, or improvement of vegetation using various treatment measures such as prescribed fire and mechanical, manual, and biological methods.

12.30 - Forest Practice Regulations:
The objective of this program is to maximize sustained production of high-quality timber products while protecting soil, water, wildlife, recreation and other values associated with forest land. Forest Practice activities include the review and permitting of commercial timber harvesting operations on nonfederal timberlands, enforcing state forest practice laws and regulations, and monitoring compliance and the effects of timber operations on forest productivity, water quality, watersheds, soils, botanical resources, wildlife, fisheries, greenhouse gases and other environmentally sensitive resources. The Program is also responsible for issuing licenses to timber operators (LTOs), providing LTO training and education, and assisting the Board of Equalization-Timber Tax Division in their administration of taxes on timber and timberland. Forest Practice Program staff also assist the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, and facilitate and participate in monitoring the effectiveness of the Board's forest practice regulations.

12.40 - Forest Resource Inventory and Assessment:
The objective of this program is to perform a periodic assessment of California's forest and rangeland resources. Activities include maintaining and distributing mission-critical datasets for fire planning, emergency incident support and meeting certain regulatory requirements. In addition, the program provides extensive technical and public information for statewide fire threat, fire hazard, watersheds, socio-economic conditions, environmental indicators and urban forestry.

12.50 - Professional Foresters Registration Program:
The Office of Professional Foresters Registration is a statutorily authorized program within the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. The program is responsible for the licensing and regulation of all persons who practice forestry or rangeland management on non-federal, state and private lands in California pursuant to the Professional Foresters Law of 1972.


The California State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (Board) is a Governor-appointed body within CAL FIRE. The Board is responsible for developing the general forest policy of the State, for determining the guidance policies of the CAL FIRE, and representing the state's interest in federal land in California. Together, the Board and CAL FIRE work to carry out the California Legislature's mandate to protect and enhance the state's unique forest and wildland resources. The Board's statutory responsibilities are to:

  • Establish and administer forest and rangeland policy for the state;
  • Protect and represent the state's interest in all forestry and rangeland matters;
  • Provide direction and guidance to the Director and CAL FIRE on fire protection and resource management;
  • Deliver a comprehensive regulatory program for forestry and fire protection;
  • Conduct its duties to inform and respond to the people of California.


Departmental administration provides executive leadership, policy direction, and a variety of program support services necessary for the successful completion of the Department's mission. CAL FIRE headquarters provides leadership through the executive office and through central services in accounting, budgeting, business services, legal, human resources, information technology, program accountability, and program and systems analysis. CAL FIRE field units provide localized general support services in a variety of locations throughout in the state.