California Fire Plan Executive Summary

California Fire Plan Executive Summary
The State Board of Forestry and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) have drafted a comprehensive update of the fire plan for wildland fire protection in California. The planning process defines a level of service measurement, considers assets at risk, incorporates the cooperative interdependent relationships of wildland fire protection providers, provides for public stakeholder involvement, and creates a fiscal framework for policy analysis.

To learn more about the California Fire Plan or to review the complete document, please see the CDF Web site.

Goals & Objectives:
The overall goal is to reduce the total costs and losses from wildland fire in California by protecting assets at risk through focused prefire management prescriptions and increasing initial attack success.

The California Fire Plan has five strategic objectives:

  1. To create wildfire protection zones that reduce the risks to citizens and firefighters.
  2. To assess all wildlands, not just the state responsibility areas. Analyses will include all wildland fire service providers -- federal, state, local government, and private. The analysis will identify high risk, high value areas, and develop information on and determine who is responsible, who is responding, and who is paying for wildland fire emergencies.
  3. To identify and analyze key policy issues and develop recommendations for changes in public policy. Analysis will include alternatives to reduce the total costs and losses by increasing fire protection system effectiveness.
  4. To have a strong fiscal policy focus and monitor the wildland fire protection system in fiscal terms. This will include all public and private expenditures and economic losses.
  5. To translate the analyses into public policies.

Fire Plan Framework
Five major components will form the basis of an ongoing fire planning process to monitor and assess California's wildland fire environment.

Wildfire Protection Zones
A key product of this Fire Plan is the development of wildfire safety zones to reduce citizen and firefighter risks from future large wildfires.

Initial Attack Success
The fire plan defines an assessment process for measuring the level of service provided by the fire protection system for wildland fire. This measure can be used to assess the department's ability to provide an equal level of protection to lands of similar type, as required by Public Resources Code 4130. This measure is the percentage of fires that are successfully controlled before unacceptable costs are incurred. Knowledge of level of service will help define the risk to wildfire damage faced by public and private assets in the wildlands.

Assets Protected
The plan will establish a methodology for defining assets protected and their degree of risk from wildfire. The assets addressed in the plan are citizens and firefighter safety, watersheds and water, timber, wildlife and habitat (including rare and endangered species) unique areas (scenic, cultural, and historic), recreation, range, structures, air quality. Stakeholders -- national, state and local, and private agencies, interest groups, etc. -- will be identified for each asset at risk from wildfire, enabling fire service managers and stakeholders to set priorities for prefire management project work.

Prefire Management
This aspect focuses on system analysis methods that assess alternatives to protect assets from unacceptable risk of wildland fire damage. Projects include a combination of fuels reduction, ignition management, fire safe engineering activities, and forest health to protect public and private assets. The priority for projects will be based on asset owners and other stakeholders' input and support. Prefire managers prescription designed to protect these assets will also identify who benefits and who should share in the project costs.

Fiscal Framework
The Board and CDF are developing a fiscal framework for assessing and monitoring annual and long-term changes in California's wildland fire protection systems. State, local, and federal wildland fire protection agencies, along with the private sector, have evolved into an interdependent system of prefire mangement andsuppression forces. As a result, changes to budgeted levels of service of any of the entities directly affects the others and the services delivered to the public. Monitoring system changes through this fiscal framework will allow the Board and CDF to address public policy issues that maximize the efficiency of local, state, and federal firefigthting resources.

These are Fire Plan framework applications:

  • Identify for state, federal, and local officials and for the public those areas of concentrated assets and high risk.
  • Allow CDF to create a more efficient fire protection system focused on meaningful solutions for identified problem areas.
  • Give citizens an opportunity to identify public and private assets to design and carry out projects to protect those assets.
  • Identify, before fires start, where cost-effective prefire management investments can be made to reduce taxpayer costs and citizen losses form wildfire.
  • Encourage an integrated intergovernmental approach to reducing costs and losses.
  • Enable policy makers and the public to focus on what can be done to reduce future costs and losses from wildfires.