California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), which responds to wildfires throughout the state, has entered a mutual aid agreement with the Pala Band of Mission Indians, empowering the tribe’s ability to respond to fires locally and state-wide.

The mutual aid agreement marks the state’s first state-tribe partnership in fire responsiveness.

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Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, Robert Smith, called the mutual aid agreement “a new standard for the vital government-to-government partnerships that ensure the safety of our communities.”

“This is a monumental achievement for our Fire Department, our Tribe and the entire community and we hope it leads the way for Tribes across the state to gain recognition for the safety and response services they provide,” Chairman Smith said in a statement.

The Pala Fire Department’s new agreement will allow them to expand their services, according to Fire Chief Ravago, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians.

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our community and the mutual aid agreement with the state will allow us to expand our mission even further,” he said. “As wildfire risks increase, we remain vigilant and ready to serve our community and beyond.”

PalaBand MutualAid2

As part of the agreement, the CalOES assigned a fire engine equipped for wildland terrain to the Pala Fire Department. The tribe’s existing fire department located on their reservation, about 30 miles northeast of San Diego, was already equipped with a fleet of two additional wildland terrain engines, and another engine designed for structural fires.

The agreement stems from the passage of California Senate Bill 816, the result of decades of work by Tribal Fire Agencies to become officially recognized as partners in providing vital emergency response services to the citizens of California.

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