California Emergency Services, Military Dept. create firefighting strike team


California’s Office of Emergency Services is deploying a Type VI strike team of wildland-style fire engines to the state’s Military Department, pictured Aug. 16, to enhance California’s Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid fleet. (Cal OES photo)

News Release

Highlighting the state’s commitment to innovative solutions to tackle climate-induced natural disasters, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the California Military Department on Tuesday, Aug. 16, announced the creation of the first all-hazards fire engine strike team — known as Team Blaze — operated by a state Military Department.

Cal OES is deploying a Type VI strike team of wildland-style fire engines to the state Military Department to enhance California’s Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid fleet.

Military newsEach with a capacity to carry a four-person crew, these engines complement the Military Department’s existing Task Force Rattlesnake hand crew program consisting of soldiers and airmen. Since the start of operations in 2019, Task Force Rattlesnake has cut, cleared and treated at-risk wildfire project areas in central and northern parts of California.

“We have always valued the California Military Department’s partnership during times of need, especially during wildfires or other natural disasters. These new engines will not only add to their capabilities, but also help augment our state’s wildfire and rescue resources more broadly,” Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said.

The state’s Military Department maintains a firefighting program at its military bases, with trained personnel providing firefighting prevention, mitigation and protection services to California and military bases and camps.

“We are proud to collaborate with Cal OES to ensure there’s another fleet of fire engines and expert staff at the ready. This Strike Team builds upon the state’s response efforts during times of need,” California Military Department Maj. Gen. Matthew P. Beevers said.

From responding to wildfires in rural settings to protecting structures in urban areas and performing urban search and rescue operations, these engines are outfitted to support a variety of emergency situations. For example, type VI engines can do the following:

Carry a 4-person crew;

Get into tight areas;

Carry 300 gallons of water;

Quickly attack fires.

The engines add to the already robust California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System fleet of more than 270 fire engines across 60 local partners statewide that can respond to incidents of all types.

Cal OES facilitates the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, which currently moves local government resources across the state in support of all-risk emergency response on behalf of local, state, and federal government fire organizations. Cal OES assigns local government fire agencies with fire apparatus to maintain surge capacity during day-to-day duties and major events/emergencies.

— By Diana Crofts-Pelayo,
California Office of Emergency Services

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