Tamalpais Fire Crew

Jason Weber, Chief, Fire Department

The Marin County Fire Department hand crew began cutting brush on February 19, 2004. To pay homage to the members of the Tamalpais Forest Fire Association, the members chose the name, “Tamalpais Fuel Crew” as their identifier. The initial pilot project was paid for by FIRESafe MARIN and the MCFD. The crew cut brush for 8 days and from there, a new paradigm within MCFD was born.

On May 20, 2005, the Marin County Board of Supervisor approved funding for a thirteen person fire crew and updated their name to the Tamalpais Fire Crew. The program is more than just a vegetation management tool, it is used to build firefighting skills, work ethic, and leadership competency among the firefighters that will become the future of MCFD and other fire agencies throughout the state.

The Crew shares Fire Station 65 with the Novato Fire District located in Hamilton. This approached of a shared fire station reduces the cost to the county while providing the crew a central location with quick access to the freeway system. It also provides the Novato Fire District a hand crew to assist with wildland fires stationed within the District.

Today, the staffing of the crew is 14 firefighters composed of a Fire Crew Superintendent, a Fire Crew Foreman, and 12 Seasonal Firefighters. They work a 9-month season beginning in June and work until March. Each day, they cut brush and fall dead trees to improve access, provide defensible space, or improve forest health in locations throughout the county. From June to November, the crew cuts and piles vegetation to create safer areas for fire suppression. Once the winter rains begin, they burn the piles in accordance to the rules established by the Bay Area Air Quality District.

The Tamalpais Fire Crew also responses to almost every wildland fire in the County to build containment lines, fall hazardous trees, and mop-up fires. They also respond to fires outside of Marin to assist CALFIRE and the United States Forest Service under mutual aid. The “Tam Crew” has fought fire all over the State from the Oregon border down to Southern California. They are on the initial dispatch to fires in the western areas of CALFIRE’S Santa Clara Unit and enjoy a great partnership that includes yearly training with Alma Helitack.

They are proud of the partnerships they have developed with fire departments, public agencies, and private landowners. They work diligently in upholding the values of Service, Teamwork, Operational Readiness, and Professionalism.