After more than 19 years as the California Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection, the statewide agency is now known as
Morgan Hill – After more than 19 years as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the statewide agency is now known as CAL FIRE.
Effective Jan. 1, the department changed its name to better reflect its many functions, as well as to provide a simpler way to refer to the department, according to Fire Prevention Specialist Chris Morgan.
“The other name was so unwieldy, you almost had to pause for breath before getting to the ‘Fire Protection’ part,” he said. Though the department was often abbreviated as “CDF,” more formal situations called for the use of the full name.
A branding committee created the new name, Morgan said, and is responsible for implementing the change. The law that created the new name – Assembly Bill 1423 – mandates that current equipment and supplies bearing the agency’s former name not be destroyed, but when it must be replaced, then it can be replaced with equipment and supplies displaying the new name.
“Some items such as our fire shirts, uniform patches, those kinds of things, we will probably be coming out with right away, but big ticket items, like new pickups, engines and bulldozers will have new the moniker when we need to replace them,” Morgan said. “We have been directed to implement it through natural attrition.”
The state department is 102 years old, but has had several names throughout the years, including the Division of Forestry. In its current incarnation, it protects more than 31 million acres in California and responds to more than 350,000 incidents per year.
In addition to putting out fires, adds CAL FIRE Information Officer Daniel Berlant, the department responds to a variety of calls and provides a long list of services to communities throughout the state.
As the department moves forward, it celebrates the careers of long-term employees. Morgan said five employees with a combined 137 years of experience were honored at a retirement ceremony on Jan. 20 at the Golden Oak Restaurant in Morgan Hill.
Unit Chief Steve Woodill, Division Chief Bill Morrison, Division Chief Dave Athey, Battalion Chief Steve Espy and Battalion Chief Wylie Evans, gathered with families, friends and co-workers, Morgan said.
“We hate to see them go, but they’ve certainly earned it,” he added.
Marilyn Dubil covers education and law enforcement for The Times. Reach her at (408) 779-4106 ext. 202 or at