Feb 132015

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This is a way for us to collect the living history of CDF / Cal Fire. Well, what is the living history of Cal Fire? It’s the firefighters of many years past, those here now and those yet to respond to the many rescues, traffic accidents and brush fires that Cal fire has been routinely handling for many years. But most importantly, it’s the people who everyday rush into harms way to serve the needs of the citizens of this great State. Those calls, those rescues, the responses have only a few stories been recorded, written down as simply a call time, a response time and a return to quarters. There’s a lot to be told about the sacrifices and risks taken by each member of the CDF/Cal Fire Team.
We are currently engaged in the recovery of many of these records, but the best part of the information is held by the firefighters who made that history. We are asking you to provide the best memory of these experiences, responses and hard fought campaigns here in this media where they can be shared and preserved. Many of the memories have all ready passed away. If you have a recollection of those who have gone before, we would encourage you to provide us with the info so we can include it.
Please look at the sample located on the Calfiremuseum Website to help organize your submission. Start by collecting 2 pictures, one from your youth,and one that isn’t .Begin by signing up on the new record link. The email address you provide will be the means for you to login and edit your submission. A few of us are not that computer literate! This is not that kind of test, send us an email and we can assist in editing your record for inclusion into the Registry. I hope that we have provided enough information with each step, but here is a review of how this should work. Don’t FORGET, your Picture.
You need one when you were a young and spry beginner, and another when your mature and experienced. (That was a nice way of saying that)

 Posted by at 10:48 PM
Feb 132015


These entries were made into our registry recently, and has become a regular occurrence of a deficit of information concerning the circumstances of the loss. Most of these are from the 1950’s, 1960’s . Knowing that, the time when there is someone who might have a recollection or an acquaintance that could share further is running out. If you can help with some information that is not all ready listed on the Internet, it would be of benefit.

Thanks    Henry  

Dana Reddish CDF Memorial Registry

John J. Lehre CDF Memorial Registry

Loyd Shellabarber CDF Memorial Registry

Stanely E. Smith CDF Memorial Registry

Paul F Wearing CDF Memorial Registry

Gerald Davis CDF Memorial Registry

Bruce Mecchi CDF Memorial Registry

Horace E. Lowrey CDF Memorial Registry

Edward McCafferty CDF Memorial Registry

Edward Simpson CDF Memorial Registry

Melvon Miller Memorial Registry

Wanda G Woods Memorial Registry

Foster Vernon CDF Memorial Registry

 Posted by at 10:27 AM
Feb 012015

Looking for any additional information on Wanda for the registry. Where, what was her assignment, circumstances, any additional info, a picture. I am unable to find an obituary listing, so any help appreciated.

Wanda G Woods – Firefighter

Santa Clara Ranger Unit Fire On the Santa Clara Ranger Unit

Incident Detail

On 10/6/1965 firefighter Wanda Woods was fighting a fire on the Santa Clara Ranger Unit . She suffered a heart attack and died.

 Posted by at 1:30 PM
Aug 262014

Hello all,
Recovering from Back Surgery- still a few kinks and physical therapy to go.
Looking for info on 2 more Memorial entries;

Sam Perona Hill Ranch Fire Firefighter 1953

Rudy Gaub Butte Ru 1949 Died while enroute to fire

If anyone can help me with some more details on these lost I will update the Memorial accordingly.



 Posted by at 1:16 PM
Jun 062014

Trying to find information about the latest entry placed into the Memorial Registry;   Foster VernonHeavy Fire Equipment Operator  July 6, 1954    Sugar Loaf Fire    Calaveras RU .  I have not been able to even verify the reports of this fire, let alone the loss of life.  If you could contribute some information or know someone who could please send them our way.


Due to problem with the Museum Store Online Software we have upgraded the store to a better version.


Thanks to those who have started their entry in the History Registry.  Some of the best parts of the Registry are the pictures you can submit of what you looked like when you started.


As Always, we need folks who can contribute some time to assist us in research of the History of this organization.  For those that have access, are there some old pictures, records setting in some dark corner in your office that hold clues to past events of the Cal Fire Organization?  Help us by forwarding those documents and pictures to use for inclusion into the collection.

 Posted by at 10:24 AM
Jun 032014

Reprinted From “100 Years of CDF”



Byron J. Carniglia January 13, 1992


Almost 44 years ago a young man of 17 arrived at Sonoma Ranger Unit Headquarters to start work. It was me. I was scared as hell. I needed a job badly because of family problems. I had seen a recruitment program at school put on by CDF and applied for a job. I had no previous knowledge of CDF, or at that time, any burning desire to be a firefighter.

After signup, I was put to work pruning bushes and hedges around the office. It was a warm day and the office windows were open. A group of men were talking in the office when suddenly, an obviously important person came in the room. I knew he was important because everyone jumped to attention. In no uncertain terms, he directed the guy who had put me to work to go out and fire the first firefighter he saw because he had another kid he wanted to hire. Being a little bit perceptive of what was going on, I remember hiding under the hedge so I wouldn’t be the first person seen.

That was my introduction to CDF management. The guy who gave the order was the Ranger Unit Chief. In those days, that was like being a god, or a monster; or maybe a little of both.

The organization has changed a lot since then. But many of these changes have not come easy. In fact, as I reflect on my career, I can think of many times when, as a group, we have resisted change. I can remember, for example: “when contracting” was a dirty word in many parts of the state;
*when we did not respond to vehicle accidents, unless the vehicles were on fire, and then only if the wildland was threatened.
*when you didn’t need a license, or even a degree to do Forest Practice inspections
*And it wasn’t that long ago when it was controversial for a State Forest Ranger I to consider himself  or HERSELF a Battalion Chief.

I’m sure we all can remember when we were the Division of Forestry. We didn’t become a DEPARTMENT until 1977, and then it took us 10 more years to add the word FIRE to our name. At one time or another, all of these were considered radical concepts. I have no doubt that in many instances, the first person to mention some of these ideas had to run for cover. They may have even hidden in the bushes just like I once did.

But as traumatic as all of these changes were at one time, they were no more traumatic than the changes that were happening in the State as a whole. Since I started with CDF in 1948, California has grown from a state with 10 million residents to a state with over 30 million. This is a growth rate 5 times greater than for the U.S. as a whole during that same period. As you know, a disproportionate amount of that phenomenal growth has occurred in the wildlands, and there seems to be no end in sight.

Now, as we near the end of the 20th Century, CDF continues to be besieged by change. We are no longer primarily a resource protection agency as we were when I started. Our resource management activities are increasingly dictated to us by politics. One glaring example of this is that timber harvesting has all but ~ ground to a halt in the state. And while I don’t believe we’ve yet cut our last tree in California, it is hard to envision the return of a booming timber industry in this state any time soon. On the other hand, it is hard for me to imagine anything but a growing need for emergency management services in California. And nowhere is that need greater than in the rapidly urbanizing wildlands of the state.

After 44 years,  I have come to the conclusion that NOBODY IS BETTER PREPARED TO PROVIDE THESE SERVICES THAN CDF.

To illustrate this point, look at some of the common buzzwords of recent years. Take, for example, the phrase “FIRE OF THE FUTURE.” The “fire of the future” has a nice modern ring to it, but in fact, it is the same fire we’ve been fighting since I started in this business. As far as I can tell, fire itself hasn’t changed much. What has changed is that many more people are now affected by it, and are therefore aware of it. And of course, because now there are so many more people and structures in the mix, our strategies for fighting fire are not the same as After 44 years, I have come to the conthey were in 1948. But these changes did not occur over night—in fact they’ve been evolving as long as I’ve been around, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of evolving right along with them.

The other buzzword I want to say something about is the phrase “URBAN-WILDLAND INTERFACE.” To read a newspaper these days, you would think this concept was just invented, especially after Santa Barbara and Oakland. But as we all know, someone staked out this territory a long time ago: it wasn’t the Forest Service, and it wasn’t the urban fire departments. No, this is our turf, gentlemen.

In a sense, CDF has always been an “interface” agency. Our specialty has always been the transitional lands: the lands that fall between the most populated lands and the least populated lands in the state—the lands that fall between the “city lines” and the federal preserves. The lands, in fact, where the most change has taken place.

Consider two of the changes that have affected us in recent years. On our “wild”, or unpopulated side, we have all but lost our ally, the Forest Service. As a firefighting force, they have never been weaker in my memory. And yet the fire threat on the federal lands is no less than before. This means there is a growing vacuum that we will continually be expected to fill.

And on the other side of us, on the urbanizing side we are now expected to protect values at risk that were not even conceivable in 1948. Today there are nearly 10 million people living in the interface and SRA as many people as lived in the entire State when I started my career. If we are going to survive as a department into the 21st century and not go the way of the Forest Service, we have to realize that the nature of our business has changed radically. Our business is no longer primarily forests, range, and watersheds as it was when I started. Our primary business today is PEOPLE  specifically, the protection of life and property.

If you look around our ailing economy today, the businesses that remain successful the ones that will survive are the ones that know where they’re going. And how do they know where they’re going?

Do we have such a plan?


I think we do.  

I think we have a perfectly workable plan for the 21st Century right here.  It’s called “The CDF Mission in a Changing Society.”  And I think it’s high time that we all get on the same page and work together to implement it. I’m convinced that the key to our survival is contained in just two sentences of this Mission Statement. The remainder of what I have to say concerns these two sentences.

The first is:

*”The Department will provide comprehensive fire protection and other related emergency services, including the protection of life and property, on state responsibility areas.”

Let’s think about this for a minute. This sentence says “we WILL provide COMPREHENSIVE emergency services on SRA.” This mandate does not allow us much discretion. It does not give us the option to provide some services and not others, nor does it limit CDF to a single-purpose wildland fire protection mission. It says we WILL also provide for the protection of life and property on SRA. As many of you remember, this was not always the case.

But times have changed.
Many still think of us as the “Department of Forestry”, but we have evolved to a condition where the public expects us to provide comprehensive emergency services. And frankly,given the budget limitations we’ve had to work under, I think we have done our best to live up to that expectation in recent years. Consider, for example, some of our non-wildland involvements of the past few years:
*1986 floods

*Loma Prieta earthquake

*Cantara Haz Mat incident

*non-SRA fires (Oakland)

In 1948, when we did respond to such incidents, we got the job done with little or no fanfare, but we were sometimes seen as a bunch of miscast brush bunnies. Today, we’re perceived as the cavalry coming over the hill.

But if we are going to continue to lead the charge, we need to capitalize on that perception. We need to play this hand for all it is worth—we need to sell ourselves to the people as California’s frontline COMPREHENSIVE EMERGENCY SERVICES ORGANIZATION. This is our best insurance that we will not go the way of the Forest Service.

The second key to our survival is contained in the next sentence:
*The Department will maintain cooperative fire protection contracts and agreements where there are economic and social benefits to the people of the State.”

If this is our plan—our mission—then the key to our strategy should be to aggressively pursue cooperative agreements.  These agreements will open the door for us to expand beyond our historical wildland expertise into those areas that make us “COMPREHENSIVE”:

*full medical and rescue response

*proper response capabilities for Hazmat

*fire protection planning *code enforcement

*mutual aid coordination

To put it bluntly, I think we need to expand our role if we are to survive. We need to aggressively reassert our stake on the interface lands. The wildland territory is traditionally ours; but the nature of that territory has changed. It is less and less “wild”, and increasingly populated and complex. We are still the best at wildland fire protection, but as the nature of these lands has evolved, the demand and the need for our services has gone beyond straight fire protection.
And I am confident that our expertise and economies-of-scale guarantee the people of the State that we offer the best value for their tax dollar.

In order to rise to this challenge, I believe we must do the following:

I said earlier that CDF is besieged by change. I believe we have a choice: On the one hand, we can be passive and allow ourselves to sink beneath the weight of those changes. If that’s our choice, I have no doubt we will go the way of the Forest Service.
Our other choice is to rise to the challenge and ride the wave of these changes into the 21st Century as

The Fire DEPARTMENT of the Future–

As a department that includes not only fire personnel, but also:


*resource managers


*and hazmat specialists, among others.

But perhaps most important of all, it includes a workforce that has enough confidence and pride in its mission that no one ever again will have to think about hiding in the bushes.


The foregoing was presented by Byron J. Carniglia on January 13, 1992 at the Ranger Unit Chiefs’ Conference. Byron was Chief of the Sonora- Lake – Napa Ranger Unit from the early 1970’s till his retirement in 2005.

 Posted by at 2:37 PM
Apr 162014

We have posted several new articles to share with you. We are staring with just a few entries in the Historical Registry. Thanks to those who have started their entries, but it seems when we are asked to “toot our own horns” it’s not as easy as it sounds.
So, next time your on the website, pick the “Browse Registry Records” menu and have a look at the following individual records, just to get an idea of what you can do here.

Glen, Jerry and Gilbert have histories posted with a significant amount of their recollections, pictures of their youthful appearance when they started and, well…. you will just have to read them for yourself! 😯

 Posted by at 11:27 AM