Residents living in Inyo, Mono, and San Bernardino counties interested in a fire prevention program email

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit teaches News Media Fire Safety to ABC7

Back lot of ABC7
The CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit is involved in providing fire safety education to members of the news media.  The news can be local around the Inland Empire or in Los Angeles.  Since the specialized class was created in 2002, over 1,000 members of the Los Angeles and Inland Empire news media have received the important safety information at least once.

ABC7 class member deploys practice fire shelter as class members watch.
ABC7 television in Glendale, California had CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Information Officer Bill Peters (one of the creators of the news media fire safety class) come to the station for the fourth consecutive year to teach wildland fire safety to their news and technical staffs.  This year Bill taught a two hour refresher class.  The class included the media access law 409.5 of the California Penal Code that allows news media access to disasters, wildland fire behavior, personal protective equipment, fire ground injuries, vehicle operation and fire shelter deployment.

More than 115 ABC7 personnel attended one of the eight two hour presentation held over three days.

Parked outside of ABC7 Studio B where the classes are taught.

CAL FIRE Camp Crews provide valuable service to the Community

For 67 years, CAL FIRE and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation have been operating Conservation Camps utilizing incarcerated men and women to fight fire and help protect the citizens their property and the resources of California.  The Conservation Camp program began in 1946 when the Rainbow Conservation Camp was established in San Diego County.  CAL FIRE is currently authorized to operate 196 fire crews year-round.
CAL FIRE Inmate Crews digging out mud from homes in the 2010 Christmas floods

 CAL FIRE in partnership with CDCR operates four conservation camps within the San Bernardino Unit.  These camps are Pilot Rock Camp near Crestline, Prado Camp in Chino, Fenner Camp near Valyermo in Los Angeles County and Owens Valley Camp near Bishop.  These camps house a combined total of nineteen crews of up to 17 inmates each.  While the primary mission of the crews is to respond to wildfires, the crews have also responded to numerous emergencies over the years.  So far this year, crews from the four CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit camps have spent more than 15,500 hours fighting fires in California, most recently during the Mountain fire in Riverside County. The CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit also operates in partnership with CDCR the women’s fire crew training facility at the Chino Institute for Women.  CIW provides female inmate firefighters for CAL FIRE camps in Rainbow and Puerta La Cruz as well as Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Malibu Camp.  Additionally, The CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit’s Prado Camp is home to the only inmate helicopter fire crew in California.  The Inmate Helitack program has been operation for more than 20 years.
CAL FIRE Prado Camp helitak crew practices hover stepping during 2010 Tonner Canyon exercixes

CAL FIRE Inmate Fire Crew on the 2009 San Bernardino Fire
 In San Bernardino County, CAL FIRE crews not only fight fire and respond to emergencies such as the Christmas flood in Highland and the floods following the disastrous 2003 Old and Grand Prix fires, the crews also provide help and assistance to other state and local agencies.  Some of these efforts include assisting CAL TRANS in roadside maintenance and vegetation removal in the San Bernardino Mountains, along with project work for Corona, Yucaipa, Chino Hills, California State Parks and Orange County to name a few.  These projects amount to tens of thousands of hours of work annually. 

The crews can be used anywhere in California.  One example was the Christmas flood in the City of Highland where CAL FIRE utilized more than 30 crews from throughout California to mitigate the hazards to the local community.  Statewide, CAL FIRE operates 39 Conservation Camps in conjunction with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  The camp crews are an important part of California’s emergency response resources providing more than 2.5 million hours of emergency response work every year. For more information about the Camp Program you can go to



Friday, July 5, 2013

CAL FIRE loses one of their own

Fire Apparatus Engineer/Paramedic
Christopher Douglas
Riverside – CAL FIRE Fire Apparatus Engineer/Paramedic Christopher Douglas, 41, of Temecula was fatally injured while responding to a traffic collision along Interstate 10 near the Thousand Palms area in Riverside County. He was an eight year veteran of CAL FIRE.

Engineer Douglas is survived by his wife, Amy, and son, Sammy (2). Christopher is also survived his siblings, Martin Douglas of Colorado Springs, Heather Douglas of Denver, mother, Veronica Herrington and family of Newport Beach,his in-laws, Ronald and Sheryl Aitken of Newport Beach, and sister in law Jessica Carroll of Costa Mesa,

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued the following statement regarding the death of Engineer/Paramedic Christopher Douglas:
“Anne and I were saddened to learn of the death of Engineer Christopher Douglas. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fellow state firefighters.”
The CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit shares in the sadness of the tragic loss today of Fire Apparatus Engineer/Paramedic Christopher Douglas. Our prayers go out to his family and friends.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Serial Arsonist Charged With 13 Counts of Arson

Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach announced this morning at a news conference that accused serial arsonist Steven Taylor Rutherford has been charged with 13 counts of arson.  District Attorney Zellerbach was accompanied on the podium by San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos, CAL FIRE South Region Chief Dale Hutchinson, Riverside County Fire/CAL FIRE Riverside Unit Chief John Hawkins and prosecuting attorney Amy Zeta.

L to R Prosecuting Attorney Amy Zeta, Chief John Hawkins, S.B. Co. D.A. Mike Ramos, Riverside Co. D.A. Paul Zellerbach and Region Chief Dale Hutchinson

Riverside Co. D.A,. Paul Zellerbach and S.B. Co. D.A. Mike Ramos talk with Prosecuting Attorney Amy Zeta
CAL FIRE South Area Region Chief Dale Hutchinson and CAL FIRE/Riverside CO. Fire Chief John Hawkins talk with Riverside Co. D.A. Paul Zellerbach
The 13 counts include igniting the Mill Fire that burned from Highway 38 in the City of Redlands across the hills into the City of Yucaipa.  One home sustained moderate damage to its interior.  Other charges include fires set between September 6, 2011 and June 28, 2013 (Mill Fire).  The locations of the fires were primarily in the Banning Pass area. 
Map of locations where accused arsonist Steven Rutherford set fires
Riverside District Attorney Paul Zallerbach said that most crimes are targeted crimes.  However, "arson is an indescriminate crime and the arsonist knows that."  Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins told the news media that "we are all partners"  in investigating and prosecuting arsonists.  CAL FIRE South Region Chief Dale Hutchinson said arson fires can be very damaging "arsonists put everyone at risk." He continued saying that CAL FIRE works deligently to investigate and prosecute arson and negligent caused fires.  San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said " arsonists are cowards. They lite and run."

Accused serial arsonist Steven Taylor Rutherford
Rutherford who is a repeat offender was expected to be arraigned this afternoon.  If convicted, he could face more than 80 years in state prison. Riverside D. A. Zellerbach added this in his comments, "We here in the Inland Empire have unfortunately learned firsthand what serious and continual threats arsonists pose to our communities.  The dangers serial arsonists like this can bring include significant loss of land, homes and even life."   

Monday, July 1, 2013

California’s Zero Tolerance of Illegal Fireworks

As we have witnessed this past weekend, the emtremely dry southern California vegetation combined with record high temperatures is a prescription for wildland fire.  We also saw how deadly wildland fire can be with the deaths of nineteen Arizona firefighters.  With summer in California officially underway and bringing increased outdoor activities, the Fourth of July is no exception. Many Californians and tourists will be celebrating our nation’s independence with fireworks, and CAL FIRE wants to stress the importance of fireworks safety and the State’s zero tolerance against illegal fireworks.

“Every year CAL FIRE and fire departments across California respond to hundreds of fireworks-related fires that result in millions of dollars in damage,” said State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover, CAL FIRE – Office of the State Fire Marshal. “If you are going to use fireworks, check first with your local fire department to make sure they are allowed in your area. If they are, use only fireworks that carry the State Fire Marshal’s ‘Safe and Sane’ seal.”

California has a zero tolerance for the sale and use of illegal fireworks. Illegal fireworks include sky rockets, bottle rockets, roman candles, aerial shells, firecrackers and other types that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner. It is illegal to sell, transport, or use fireworks that do not carry the “Safe and Sane” seal, as well as possess or use any fireworks in a community where they are not permitted. If convicted, a violator could be fined up to $50,000 as well as sent to jail for up to one year. There are nearly 300 communities within California that allow “Safe and Sane” fireworks.

“Even with a temporary cool down and rain in parts of Northern California, our fire activity remains significantly higher than average,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CAL FIRE. “With how dry conditions are, if fireworks are used illegally or in an unsafe manner, they can easily spark a fire or cause injuries; the consequences to our communities can be devastating.”

CAL FIRE is asking Californians to prepare for wildfires by taking these actions:

• Check that fireworks are allowed in the area of use
• Make sure the firework has the State Fire Marshal “Safe and Sane” seal
• Purchase only from legitimate organizations authorized to sell
• Have a bucket of water, sand or garden hose available at firing site
• Read all instructions before use
• Dispose of used fireworks in water
• Never alter, modify or enhance fireworks
• Make sure fireworks have proper clearance from flammable materials including dry grass and brush

For more information about safe fireworks use, visit the CAL FIRE web site at