CPF District 6 represents CAL FIRE, Local 2881.

Photo:  Tenaya Fleckenstein

Photo: Tenaya Fleckenstein

A New Era of Risk and Challenge

If anyone ever wanted to understand why they became a firefighter, this is the year that answered their questions. The stunning disasters began with what is known as the October Fires and continued into November with the most catastrophic fire in our state’s history.

CAL FIRE, Local 2881 was honored to work alongside our local counterparts doing everything possible to protect vulnerable neighbors and exposed properties.

The cause of the fires are still being investigated as we go to print. The response to the fires, however, are a matter of record. The brothers and sisters of our profession handled the continuing crisis with professionalism and courage. 

The Need

A review of the fires revealed to the public what many of already knew to be true – that the funding for a “new natural” of regular disasters engendered and worsened by climate change and drought is inadequate. 

Local 2881 supports the earmarking of the 100 million dollars to pre-position engines during days of the risk, and 13 million to enhance our over-burdened communications system.

A second separate proposal is also important to us – and that is the replacement of engines that CAL FIRE has lost since 1975, and increased staffing for the increased demands on our men and women. 

There is no doubt that beyond this year we will be visiting the Legislature as a united profession to bring sense and sensibility to future funding. A cursory look at the costs associated with these disasters is absolute proof that the expenditures at the front end save everything critical about making a community safe.

We also support the modernization of the aerial fleet we all rely upon more heavily as the fires become more expansive. The cost, again, is minimal and the end results net real-world benefits that make a difference in both the suppression and recovery.


Local input, and participating in the CPF clusters, make it possible for 2881 to get a more complete picture of the candidates for the various offices that impact our profession. The legislature is ostensibly our city council or board of supervisors and it is important that we maintain an educational program explaining the importance of public safety as the policy priority.

The importance of the fire service displaying solidarity in the policy discussions has never been more critical. The same great work we do in the field needs to be duplicated in our policy and public relations outreach.

While there is no doubt that the public is always appreciative of the efforts our brothers and sisters make in situations of extreme duress, it is helpful to explain that the infrastructural needs associated with firefighting are extensive.

An Interesting Statistic

The hotel occupancy rates in Napa and Sonoma counties are higher than they were a year ago, which prompted some optimists to opine that the recovery was occurring much quicker than anticipated. They said that the economic backbone of the state was tourists who were willing to return to beautiful California even if was scarred by the conflagrations.

The truth was a bit more telling.

The increase was not due to an influx of people wanting to go wine tasting. The increase was due to first and second responders beginning to rebuild the damaged communities.

We are in a new era of risk and challenge.