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 authorities. The program also operates the California All-Incident Reporting System (CAIRS), which collects and analyzes incident response data provided by local fire departments.
  • Fire and Life Safety: Objectives include the enforcement of fire/life safety standards in state-owned and state-occupied facilities, institutions, jails and areas not covered by a local fire department. The program also assists local fire 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 6,400 miles of critical pipelines that transport crude oil and refined products (e.g., gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, etc.). Regulated pipelines do not include those within production fields, marine terminals, refineries or bulk loading facilities. The program has been designated as a federal agent for the enforcement 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.


The Department provides for a system of basic fire protection to keep damages to life, property and natural resources at or below a level acceptable within social, political and economic constraints. The objective is to quickly and aggressively attack all fires in areas where the Department has assumed primary direct protection responsibility by virtue of law, contract or mutual understanding and to continue aggressive suppression operations 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 intent 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. The Department'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:
The Department provides a full range of fire protection to local, county, state and federal agencies throughout California through the administration of 146 cooperative agreements in 35 of the state's 58 counties, 25 cities, 31 fire districts and 34 other special districts and service areas. Additionally, there are agreements with six counties that provide wildland fire protection on behalf of the Department.

11.60 - Conservation Camps:
The Department, 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 responses, and conservation related work projects.

11.80 - Emergency Fire Suppression:
The Department incurs additional emergency fire suppression expenditures when budgeted initial attack forces are unable to cope with a wildland fire within the initial attack period, when extreme fire conditions exist and when mutual aid requests from other government authorities are fulfilled.


California's state and private forest, range, watershed lands and urban forests provide multiple human 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, 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. Activities include the detection, evaluation and control of forest pests; growing and sale of tree seedlings from two nurseries for reforestation and soil erosion control; genetic tree improvement; advice and assistance to non-industrial forest landowners on management of forests and improved harvesting practices; the demonstration of sustainable forestry in state forests; implementation of the California Forest Improvement Act of 1978; and demonstration of the use of wood waste and forest growth for increased use of forest products. In the area of vegetation management, assistance is provided to the public and to private landowners to achieve land use objectives by reducing damage from wildland fires, increasing wildlife habitat, increasing productivity of forest and rangelands, improving water yields and air quality and maintaining desirable ecosystems. The Department cooperates with federal, state and local agencies and private property owners to develop and achieve land use objectives. Activities include the removal, rearrangement, conversion or improvement of vegetation using various treatment measures such as prescribed fire and mechanical, manual, biological and chemical methods.

12.30 - Forest Practice Regulations:
The objective of this program is to maximize sustained production of high-quality timber while protecting soil, water, wildlife, recreation and other values associated with forest land. Activities include regulating timber harvesting operations on nonfederal timberlands, carrying out studies of causes and effects of soil erosion, issuing licenses to timber operators and assisting taxing agencies in their administration of taxes on timber and timberland.

12.40 - Forest Resource Inventory and Assessment:
This program provides information to assist in the formulation and analysis of resource policies and practices regarding fire protection, watershed protection and resource management. Activities include assessing forest and range land conditions; developing and maintaining the data and tools used in the California Fire Plan; identifying policy options for improving conditions across all wildland resources; publishing forest and range assessments; designing and conducting inventories to gather forest and range land data; developing a data storage, retrieval and analytical system; producing maps displaying soil and vegetation types; and providing comment on the U.S. Forest Service Resources Planning Act, National Forest Management Act and Soil Conservation Service Resource Conservation Act processes.

12.60 - CalFED Distributed Administration:
The Budget Act of 2006 transferred the administrative function for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. This program continues to provide administrative services for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, which is under the Resources Agency.


The objective of this program is to provide executive leadership, policy direction and administrative services required for the successful completion of the Department's objectives. Department headquarters provides leadership through the executive office and through central services in accounting, budgeting, business services, human resources, information technology, program accountability and program and systems analysis. Department field units provide localized general support services in a variety of locations throughout in the state.