The U.S. Forest Service honored the Chumash Fire Department for its ongoing efforts with a ceremony Thursday morning at the Figueroa Mountain Forest Service Station in Los Olivos.
When the USFS began experiencing staffing shortages in its ranks earlier this year, the Chumash Fire Department answered the call for assistance and staffed the Figueroa Mountain Forest Service Station.
The project involved staffing, cleaning and getting the station operational. The Chumash Fire Department will have an engine crew at the station for one more week.
The recent ceremony highlighted the working relationship between the Chumash Fire Department and the USFS. Steve Hall, Santa Lucia district ranger; Chumash Fire Department crew members, USFS officials and more were in attendance.
USFS officials presented the Chumash firefighters with certificates of appreciation and a commemorative coin for their hard work over the past several months.
“Los Padres is grateful to the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and its fire department for providing the U.S. Forest Service with staffing coverage at the Figueroa Fire Station this year,” said Mr. Hall, acting Santa Lucia District ranger for the U.S. Forest Service. “The Chumash engine crew played a critical role this summer, and we look forward to strengthening this relationship in the years ahead.”
The USFS’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
The Chumash Fire Department, in addition to providing emergency, medical and disaster services for the Santa Ynez Reservation, also serves as a resource for the greater community, combating fires and protecting people and property throughout the region.
Through an arrangement with the USFS, Chumash fire crews also respond to fires on federal land throughout the country. The 22-crewmember fire department has been called to more than 50 fires this year, including multiple returns to fires in 10 states.
“We appreciate the U.S. Forest Service reaching out to us and trusting us to be good stewards of the land,” said J.P. Zavalla, fire chief for the Chumash Fire Department. “This is historically Chumash land, and we have many sacred sites here in the Los Padres National Forest. The Chumash Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service have a common goal of protecting our resources here.”