State Launches Historic Firefighting Partnership with the Pala Band of Mission Indians


Ahead of peak wildfire season, this partnership amplifies the robust California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System

SAN DIEGO – Working to fortify state and local resources to keep Californians safe from all-hazard disasters, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has created a first-in-the-state partnership with a Tribal Nation.

Through an agreement with the state, the Pala Band of Mission Indians and Pala Fire Department are now a partner of the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System.

In particular, Cal OES is assigning a Type III fire engine to the Pala Fire Department, increasing their capability to respond to local and statewide incidents. During times of disaster, the Type III engine may be called upon to preposition ahead of or respond to emergency incidents statewide.

“Cal OES is thrilled to create a historic partnership with the Pala Band of Mission Indians and the Pala Fire Department,” said Nancy Ward, Director of Cal OES. “Increasing capabilities of the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System will ensure we can get vital resources to communities statewide during times of need.”

“The Pala Band of Mission Indians and the Pala Fire Department are thrilled to be partnering with Cal OES on a mutual aid agreement,” said Robert Smith, Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians. “This is a momentous occasion for the Tribe and for the safety of our community.”

Through legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, the state is now allowed to enter into mutual aid agreements with tribes, boosting tribal access for federal funding and reimbursements when they assist with disasters, like wildfires.

This historic partnership adds to the already robust California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, deploying a fleet of more than 270 fire engines to over 60 local partners across the state. Before and during a disaster or emergency, these engines and crew can rapidly deploy to a location to increase local capacity.

Type III fire engines are 4-by-4 vehicles that can go off-road to battle California wildfires in addition to responding to all-hazard events. They have the capacity to carry a 4-person crew and carry 500 gallons of water. Their size allows them to get into places bigger engines can’t like rough terrain or hillsides.


Cal OES serves as the state’s lead emergency management agency, including respond, directing, and coordinate state and federal resources and mutual aid assets across all regions to support communities across the state.


Established in 1978, the Pala Fire Department, with only two (2) firefighters and a 300-gallon water tank, expanded in 1980 to a full-time volunteer department – operating twenty (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week. In 2006 the Fire Department established its Advanced Life Support (ALS) Paramedic program providing the highest level of service and industry-standard in San Diego to the community of Pala and surrounding areas.

Today, the Pala Fire Department enjoys twenty-nine (29) full-time suppression personnel:

  • Two (2) Chief Officers,
  • Six (6) Captains,
  • Six (6) Engineers, and
  • Fifteen (15) Firefighter/Paramedics


Pala Fire Department Training on Cal OES Engine: here.

Type III Fire Engine Video: Cal OES Fire and Rescue Fleet – Type III Fire Engine

Link to Cal OES Fire and Rescue Branch Fleet photos here.