The Pechanga Fire Department (PFD) protects the citizens and infrastructures of the Pechanga Reservation. The PFD keeps Pechanga Tribal members, our elders, our children and their homes safe from the ravages of California's wildfires.
At First, a Volunteer Department
The Pechanga Fire Department (PFD) was established in June 1996 after a fierce and wind-driven wildfire swept across the reservation, destroying eight homes. At that time, the tribe had no fire protection for itself. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), located in Old Town Temecula, responded to emergencies on the reservation. Prior to that, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) carried the judicial responsibilities of protecting tribes from wildland fires. However, tribal member Rick Huard, a CalFire firefighter at the time of the Pechanga reservation's devastating fire, took the lead in developing a volunteer fire department for the reservation. He brought his proposal for the new fire department to the General Membership, and in the wake of the blaze, the member's overwhelmingly approved Huard's initiative.
From its inception, the volunteer fire department took about a year to become fully operational. Once in place, the reservation's residents and employees were given a new found sense of protection for their families, homes, workplace, and perhaps most importantly, their heritage.
The next several years, the development of homes, governmental buildings, and infrastructure on the reservation continued. At the same time, the tribe's business holdings were increasing with a successful casino and the need to expand to satisfy the demand of its guests. As additional sources of revenue for the tribe, a Pechanga Gas Station and Pechanga RV Resort was built adjacent to the casino. It soon became obvious that the volunteer fire department needed to transform into its own full-time department.
On April 6, 1997, the Pechanga General Membership approved the construction for the Fire Station Public Safety Building - Site 1.
A Full-fledged Fire Department
In April 1999, three of the original volunteers, along with six others, were hired on to make up the full-time Pechanga Fire Department. Three captains, three engineers, and three firefighters comprised the original team. They soon added a new type I American La France engine to the department and its employees work a 48/96 schedule. Growth of the new fire department paralleled the continued building on the reservation and the construction of the 14-story Pechanga Resort & Casino (PRC). In October 2003, to keep up with the demand, twelve additional personnel were brought on to staff the new American La France 100-foot Tiller Quint. As the Fire Service in California continued to progress, so has the Pechanga Fire Department. In November 2011, the department became an Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider and now employs six full-time firefighter paramedics.
Today: Pechanga Fire Department (PFD)
Fifteen years since the department began, the force has nearly tripled — today, the PFD employs 30 full-time fire professionals, two of whom are Pechanga Tribal Members, one fire inspector, and nine additional reserve firefighters. The department equipment consists of a Type 1 American La France engine, the American La France 100-foot Tiller Quint, a Type III engine, a Type II engine, and a Type II water tender. The PFD adheres to 310-1 (California Incident Command Certification System) training standards set forth by the state of California. It also meets stringent federal training regulations.
In addition, the PFD personnel also have specialized training including Rescue Systems I and II, river and flood rescue, technical rope rescue, and other specialized training courses.
The PFD has the responsibility of protecting the lives, property and economic development of the Pechanga Tribe and reservation. The Pechanga Indian Reservation is located south of the city of Temecula in Southern California, encompasses 10 square miles with much of it consisting of wildland urban interface. Approximately 600 people live on the reservation and another 3,500 work in its various facilities everyday.
The Pechanga Resort & Casino, California's largest resort and casino is also located at Pechanga. The resort internally comprises almost 1.5 million square-feet, 14 stories, 522-hotel rooms, 8 restaurants, a 24-hour gaming floor, a 1200-seat showroom, and entertains upwards of 15,000 people on a daily basis.
The PFD is also responsible for ensuring the safety of the tribe's natural resources on the reservation, including the Great Oak Ranch. The ranch is home to the largest natural growing, indigenous live oak tree in the United States. The tree is estimated to be anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 years old.
The PFD looks to the future and sees continued growth and prosperity natural to the growing economy of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. The department stands prepared to face the challenges and changes that lie ahead. The PFD is determined to approach such tasks with professionalism and the best level of service in the arenas of fire suppression, prevention, public education, and EMS and rescue programs.
The root of the Pechanga people are deep into the land of the surrounding valley. The Pechanga Fire Department will make certain these roots continue to be nourished, protected and preserved, ensuring economic viability, a better way of life for the Pechanga members and residents, and the entire Temecula Valley.