Cal Fire Crew Cuts


13 years of running the fellas and printed data gives me the ability to say the following.

My guys dressed in Orange nomex,wearing knock off boots, and packing as much if not more than you…should be addressed as, fellas or firefighter.

Not con, convict,con crew or the like

Factual data

Calfire crews are NOT type 1 anywhere other than California. It is our own (Dept)terminology
-cannot be broken into squads, hang on…
( My guys are great at it, but by policy, we cannot do it)
-do not have the qualified supervision
( Asst supt, squadies,senior ff)
-do not have 8 radios
-do not have 4 B cutters(type 2) or better

Bautista,LNU Drills,Coast drill, Ishi,. These are not typing. They are preparedness exercises (tests) to test if crews and supervisors are prepared fir the upcoming season. There is no lower "typing " to leave these exercises. Options are pass,fail. Fail, come back retest. There now your ready!

Calfire crews are labeled/called etc type 1 because that is what as an agency calls them.

Nwcg typing is not a take or leave when convenient.

Lastly, those folks in orange ARE the physical backbone of the department. And over the years I have seen repeated accomplishments from rescue, to supression,to academics to just being a human, that have made me pretty proud and impressed.


I’ve been following this thread waiting for someone to finally admit that. Nwcg is very black and white when it comes to crew typing. I’ve always respected cdc crews as long as they were professional and performed. As I do with any module. Not sure where, or how the state came up with its own crew typing system but it feels very pompous. Absolutely no comparison between fs crews and st crews. As a div sup you know what your getting when you see hotshot or st 0000G on the iap. With that being said, there is definitely a time and place for the freeway scrape thats slow and steady. If we’re loosing state crews, just start ordering fed crews. They don’t mind being busy. K man nailed it that they are the physical backbone of the agency


Certain political elements have been constantly whining about the Inmate Crews, calling it “slave labor.” No amount of facts will convince them otherwise. In the current political climate in California, the chances are more likely than not that in the next decade we’ll see those Inmate Crews disappear. They will have to be replaced with something else, either FF1 crews (either full-time or seasonal), or with contract crews.

If CalFire were to put together FF1 crews in an NWCG Type 1 format, then there would be no doubt as to exactly what you would be getting when you ordered one up. I’m positive that if CalFire were to do that, there would be more than enough people lining up to take those positions. You’d be drawing from a pool of Hotshots and Fed Crew members that want to stay in-state, former inmate crew members who have the skills honed over the years, Contract Sawyers that want a steady paycheck, and kids fresh out of the academy looking for their first fireline job, and aren’t afraid of hard work.

Early into my fire service career, I was part of a crew that was put together by the unit to augment the drawdown of crews region-wide. We had FF1 and PCF as crew members, lead by a Crew Captain. We were paid the standard EW2 rate as PCF’s for the same duty hours that the FF1’s had. That experience served me well when I went to work for USFS and later FWS.

I’d welcome CalFire putting together FF1 crews. I have a nephew that is well-qualified, and would love the opportunity to work on a crew, either full-time, or seasonal.


Thank you Kman.
In a perfect world folks would resign themselves to know different agency classification doesn’t mean they perform any less. I wonder if those 6 proposed crews will be assigned to the New S-71 firehawks since they can deploy pretty much a entire crew on IA of a given fire assignment. Aren’t we getting 6 ships for now?


I believe the 6 crews your referring to are fuels crews, the state has been putting them together the last couple years under drought augmentation funding. The bodies go back to an engine once summer staffing comes around. I think they are just permanently funding them now, with the new budget alot of our “drought augmentation” items have been funded. Have not heard if the will be a year round fuels crew. With the state shelling out $200 million a year for the next 5 years for fuel reduction theres going to be alot of work to be done. Before the cuts CF had 196 crews across the state, good luck finding that many bodies to fill that void! And that’s the unseen value in the CF crews is the grade work and fuels projects.


6, 10 person “fire use crews”. Staffing of 2 FCBs and 8 forestry aids on a 40hr work week…


FireRx, as stated above by badbrad, these crews will be fuel reduction crews only. Make up listed above. The helitack crews assigned to CF’s current helicopters will be rolled over to the new 71’s. And the crews will expand if there is room.


Numerous counties have hand crews Ventura /orange to name a few and are outstanding . Great way to get experience and build the resume and never have a problem filling those


San Bernardino, Kern, Santa Barbara, LA, and Orange counties all have paid crews now. Great way to understand fire behavior and learn how to lay fire down. Plus add in all those agencies who have helitack crews. CA is very lucky in having these crews to go along with their agencies Initial Attack resources. Plus they are available for out if county assignments. Win Win for them.


That’ll work :slight_smile: something is wrong if your not dedication the majority if the CF crews to fuels reduction line building during the winters months. That what I use to dedicate my crew to in the winter. Cut and pile then go out on wet weather burn days and burn the piles. Has this practice changed since 2010? I don’t understand why you need to assemble 6 additional fuels reduction crews when that what the CF crews are suppose to be doing when their not on a fire assignment. Did something Change???


When I saw the name of the thread I thought this was about hair cuts


Another example is Marin County Fire. They have the Mt Tam Fire Crew that is all seasonal firefighters, and they are there because they want to be, many there year after year.


Nothing has changed, but yeah there’s change… we’ve got 34 less crews… each battalion has multiple fuels projects, with multiple fire safe councils with projects, add in the normal grade projects and cooperators projects etc. and a damn near year round fire season… the projects stack up quickly.


Copy, thanks, Badbrad :slight_smile:


As a retired Cal fire Captain B with 17 years between two camps and a couple of my youth years on a shot crew, let’s be perfectly clear regarding Type I and Type II crews. Many in Cal Fire will swear that Inmate handcrews are type I. Not in my opinion have or will they ever be close to a type I crew. Look at running a burn job, I’ve watched many CDCR crews conduct a burn op the captain might have his ducks lined up but most of the inmates don’t get it. I’ve seen many a close call when inmates where running around with torches and the poor captain pulling his hair out to try to get them to figure it out. Shot crews are great at burning we are great at line cutting holding and mopping up. And I could go on and on and I know most retired fcb feel the same. The ones currently working probably won’t admit it but it’s how I see things.


Current Capt. B. Been following this thread now for a few days. Agreed cf crews are not type 1. So I’ll poke the bear and see what you guys think. What’s the solution for getting better inmates? Yes they are short timers. Does this go back to training at the prison? Do we need to cut even more crews to have more efficient ff’s. Will this make the camp system more sought after for the guys, that actually want to be there and respect the fact they are not behind a wall. Just a few thoughts before bed and and see if we’re headed to delta fire tomorrow


@Fobz1 safe travels if you launch . Done it long enough to know “fixing” has nothing to do with “us” in the weeds. But this is a great platform to hash out the knowns, unknowns,and opinions.

IMHO of time in grade ( no pun intended…ok a little)

Change ,positive negative, knee jerk or at noon tomorrow, happens with media,lobiest,the loudest movers and shakers, or politics. PERIOD!

IE, Vetura Camp and Butte fire center along with Placer fire crews( unknown facility ), those FCB and CCC folks are trying their rear ends off to make it work. But crew members aren’t sticking around long. But they are doing they’re damndest

The CCC crews areva stab at trying to find a soulution but( disclaimer, I’m am not political,nor do u make political statements) but the Governor of California has a thing for forcing CCC crews last time around ( he re established the CC in 1976)and again this time round.
Again it’s a shot and may work as a rough model…but…

Cdcr is an animal larger than the fire World.

Keep on doing the best, and a darn good job at it… But keep working toward a solution.


Posted 20hrs…



One of the things that has been a problem of late with CF crews locally is contraband and in camp substance abuse. Thats information i got from the captains of these crews. I also witnessed numerous contraband drops while they were doing project work at millerton lake for us. If an inmate spends a half hour at the bathroom hes on a cellphone. This has led to state parks park law enforcement getting involved and camp lockdown then more or less entire new crews. They do good work but come with lots of baggage.

Someone metioned ccc crews and they have a few fire crews. Me being a former corpmember I can tell you some ccc crews will bust their butts for you until they have to leave while some others want to play grabass or go home as soon as they step out of the buggy. Some of those guys and gals are trying to avoid becoming an inmate. CCC crews also dont stay together for a long period just like inmate crews. They are limited to age 23 or 1 year from their hire date if they don’t get extended then do their volunteer work to promote. My crew went though 18 people in eight months with me and 5 others that going a full year plus. Nothing quite like weedeating in 110 degree heat on the 99 and 41 to break in noobs.