May 31, 2024

Governor Newsom announces new partnerships for state’s Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System

What you need to know: During Wildfire Preparedness Month, the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System secured historic partnerships with three California tribal nations, bolstering all-hazards emergency response capacity statewide.

Sacramento, California – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new partnership between the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the San Manuel Fire Department, and the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, as the state continues to highlight Wildfire Preparedness Month ahead of peak Wildfire Season. 

Led by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), this partnership further expands the state’s robust mutual aid system, supplying a fleet of more than 270 fire engines to over 150 fire departments across the state. During disasters like a wildfire, this partnership may be called upon to increase local capacity by moving resources to an anticipated disaster-risk area and responding to emergency incidents statewide. 

Earlier this month Cal OES announced new partnerships with the Barona Band of Mission Indians, Barona Fire Department, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, and Viejas Fire Department. 

California tribal nations understand this land and how to respond to it better than any other community – they have been doing so since time immemorial. Their participation in the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System is an advantage for all Californians, and all our communities will be safer for it.
Governor Gavin Newsom

San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the San Manuel Fire Department
Barona Band of Mission Indians, Barona Fire Department, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and Viejas Fire Department
Pala Band of Mission Indians and Pala Fire Department
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These partnerships are possible because of legislation, SB 816 by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), signed by Governor Newsom, allowing the state to enter into mutual aid agreements with tribes, boosting tribal access for federal funding and reimbursements when they assist with disasters, like wildfires.

“This government-to-government partnership provides for San Manuel to play an even more significant role in safeguarding California,” said Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena. “The Governor and legislature recognize the critical role of tribes in managing emergency services, and through this agreement, we enhance our capacity to carry out the essential governmental responsibility of protecting people, wildlife, and our sacred ancestral lands.” 

Through the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, San Manuel Fire Department received a Type III fire engine, a 4-by-4 vehicle that can go off-road to battle wildfires and respond to all-hazard events. Type III fire engines can carry a 4-person crew and up to 500 gallons of water – providing critical capacity for responding to local and statewide incidents.  

Since then, the state has established a number of agreements, including Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System’s partnership with the Pala Band of Mission Indians and Pala Fire Department, which was announced last year.

“Adding a new tribal nation to the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System is a source of pride for Cal OES,” said Cal OES Director Nancy Ward. “Deploying additional resources in California communities means we can keep more people safe as we continue to strive towards swifter disaster response.” 

Wildfire resiliency

To support Indigenous stewardship, the state last year awarded $19 million for 13 projects as part of the nation-leading Tribal Wildfire Resilience Grant Program. The funding supports California Native American tribes in managing ancestral lands, employing traditional ecological knowledge in wildfire resilience, and improving wildfire safety for tribal and surrounding communities. 

The state recently kicked off its summer season campaign efforts, beginning with its Wildfire Awareness Campaign in rural communities. Community leaders are encouraged to sign up for local emergency alerts and share these resources with family, friends and neighbors to build resiliency and help communities stay safe this summer.

CAL FIRE has worked to reduce the risk of fires all year round, including increased fire prevention efforts, better firefighting technology and resources, and community preparedness initiatives. In 2023, there was a 93.87% reduction in structures destroyed compared to 2022. Potential mega-fires were kept small, protecting communities and limiting smoke impacts and CAL FIRE met its 100,000-acre goal for fuel reduction activities for the fourth straight year. Through the Ready for Wildfire initiative, Californians can learn the necessary steps to prepare their homes to be better prepared if a wildfire strikes.