New director chosen for California State Fire Department

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Fire-plagued California has a new fire chief.

Joe Tyler, a 31-year veteran of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, was named Thursday to lead a department battling conflagrations fueled by drought and climate change that in recent years, destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens of people. .

They include the 2018 campfire in the Sierra Nevada foothills that killed 85 people and virtually leveled the northern town of Paradise.

Tyler’s appointment as director of Cal Fire was announced by Governor Gavin Newsom’s office and Friday was his first full day on the job.

He is the 22nd director in Cal Fire’s 137-year history and will oversee a statewide agency with a $3.7 billion budget and more than 9,600 employees who have handled more than 535,000 emergencies. last year, Cal Fire said in a statement Friday.

Tyler joined Cal Fire in 1991 as a firefighter with Cal Fire’s Shasta-Trinity Unit in Northern California and most recently served as assistant director of fire protection, Cal Fire said.

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead Cal Fire and look forward to serving the people of California while promoting the health and well-being of our employees,” Tyler said in a prepared statement.

Tyler was “helpful” in helping Cal Fire secure a new fleet of C-130 helicopters and air tankers to fight major fires, Cal Fire said.

Tyler, 50, replaces Thom Porter, who retired in December after one of the worst wildfire seasons in state history, with fires raging across millions of acres of forests and scrub. The Caldor Fire in the Sierra Nevada has forced 22,000 people to evacuate the resort town of South Lake Tahoe.

Porter said he was leaving “with bittersweet feelings, balanced by deep pride” to focus on “family, aging parents and himself”.

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