Private Equipment has been used in support of fire suppression efforts in California since the 1950s. Late in the 1980s CAL FIRE and United States Forest Service (USFS) Region 5 used contract agreements called “Tripartite” for hiring private vendors. CAL FIRE and USFS shared vendor documents with each other and local cooperating agencies along with inspection and rate structure. 

After the turn of the century (2006), the USFS began using the “Best Value Bid System” which ended the use of “Tripartite” agreements and terminated cooperation between agencies. After that, CAL FIRE agreements were handwritten on a form (OF-294), either on a computer or using multiple carbon copies. They were then entered into an Emergency Response Directory (ERD). 

In the late 1990’s Fire Captain Jake Goetz recognized the need for a tracking system for hired equipment. The program he developed, “Goetz ERD”, was used by Emergency Command Centers (ECC) to help order and record vendor contacts. The system was not widely accepted, and its use was inconsistent statewide. The “Goetz ERD” included a spreadsheet that had a planned need statewide list. A copy of this was kept by North and South Region Headquarters, but when Captain Goetz retired his program was not supported and its use ended.

2001 California Governor Gray Davis introduced executive orders D-37-01 and D-43-10 mandating hiring goals for Certified Small Businesses (CSB) and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBE). All state agencies are required to adhere to these executive orders, which gave the Small Business and Disabled Veterans Business communities leverage at the congressional and legislative level of state government. Because the Department wasn’t following mandated policies, CAL FIRE was forced to defend itself and the decisions that were made mostly during the resource ordering process. Because of lengthy legislative hearings, the budget process was interrupted, delaying funding for all CAL FIRE programs by the state legislature. These actions highlighted the need for a resource tracking system that records details in the ordering process.

Every year the Hired Equipment program and the ECC ordering processes are the topics of numerous Public Records Act (PRA) requests. Most of the requests are generated from within the vendor community. There are “Watchdog” groups that police CAL FIRE’s adherence to our own policies. They also police business practices within the vendor community to discourage abuse and fraud.