First Class 1 California Tribal Fire Department Teams Up with Goats to Prevent Wildfires

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– ISO Community Hazard Mitigation recently conducted a risk and capabilities assessment on the San Manuel Fire Department (SMFD) and on June 9, San Manuel was notified they had received a Class 1 rating. This rating places the department in the highest tier for training, equipment, fire prevention activities, and overall deployment and staffing capabilities for emergency communications and responses. This distinction also places SMFD in the top one percent class across the nation.

The risk assessment rates the public fire protection efforts including the preventative work of the fire marshal, overall fire response capabilities, hazard mitigation, safety training, staffing & the water supply system in the jurisdiction.

“Ensuring the safety of our tribal citizens and property on the San Manuel Indian Reservation as well as the greater Inland Empire community is part of a public safety culture within the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians,” said San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairman Ken Ramirez. “Since its establishment in 2003, San Manuel Fire Department has strived to provide the best fire services in and around our ancestral territory of southern California, protecting communities that are often under threat by wildfire. Thank you to our fire department for safeguarding our community and congratulations to Chief Smith and SMFD for earning the Class 1 Rating from ISO Community Hazzard Mitigation.”

To date, only 37 Fire Departments in the State of California have achieved an ISO Mitigation Class 1 rating.

“Being rated as a Class 1 Fire Department from the ISO is a testament to the commitment that the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has made in providing excellent emergency services to our employees, guests, neighbors, and Tribal Citizens, said SMFD Fire Chief Michael J. Smith. “I am proud of the fact that this rating also recognizes the hard work of the men and women of the SMFD to meet the highest professional standards for fire service professionals. Since 2003, SMFD has responded to well over 25,000 calls, the majority of which are off the Reservation. Together, we are committed to ensuring fire safety, not only on the Reservation, but to protect the lives of those in the entire community.”

ISO Mitigation’s Public Protection Classification (PPC) provides beneficial data and analysis for the greater community and property owners to assess and mitigate risks from fire. Some of those benefits include assisting communities in preparation to fight fires effectively and establish a basis for securing fair premiums for fire insurance by offering data and analysis of a community’s capacity to provide fire prevention and protection.

Currently, one of those measures includes the department utilizing two herds of goats, one herd located on the Reservation in Highland, CA and the other at Arrowhead Springs Resort owned by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The two herds total 350 goats who are controlling brush and grass in the area to proactively protect the Tribal and surrounding communities within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).

The goat herds will work for the next several months in both locations to help mitigate more than 1,000 acres of light (grasses) and medium (brush) fuels to reduce risks to life and property by lessening the potential impact of wildfires within the WUI.

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