Wildfires ripped through more than 7 million acres across the country last year, with California’s drought and extreme heat adding to this year’s critical fire conditions. With determination to deploy the right tools, technology and practices for fire detection and suppression, CAL FIRE Chief Joe Tyler is tackling the herculean task of protecting lives, homes, and natural treasures across a tinder-dry landscape. “We have seen the fires get larger, more damaging and more devastating,” Tyler said. “The climate has changed; the environment has changed.” While being instrumental in helping CAL FIRE obtain assets such as a new fleet of helicopters and C-130 air tankers, he has stressed that the health and wellness of his workforce is the greatest asset and “of utmost importance.”
Tyler is a 31-year veteran of CAL FIRE who most recently served as the Deputy Director of Fire Protection overseeing statewide fire protection operations and cooperative fire protection. When offered the director position on March 3, he began the job the next day. He began his career with CAL FIRE in 1991, in the Shasta Trinity Unit, and since working in several counties and programs throughout California including Riverside, Amador, El Dorado, and Sacramento. Tyler has an extensive executive level operational and programmatic background.
Prior to his appointment as Deputy Director, Tyler served as the Assistant Deputy Director of Fire Protection with oversight of law enforcement/civil cost recovery, fire protection operations, aviation management, tactical air operations, and mobile equipment. He has also held managerial responsibility for training, safety, emergency medical services (EMS), local/state/federal programs, and hand crew programs.
Tyler serves as the department representative on the California Wildland Coordinating Group, National Association of State Forester’s Wildland Fire Committee, and Western States Fire Managers, and served on several statewide committees and cadres. He is a qualified Agency Administrator and Incident Commander – Type 1. He was a member of CAL FIRE Incident Management Teams from 2005 through 2014, last holding the position of Deputy Incident Commander on CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 3.