Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#USFA Coffee Break Training: Commercial Cooking - Saponification #USFireTraining

Commercial Cooking: Saponification No. FP-2015-21 May 26, 2015 Learning Objective: The student will be able to explain the saponification process

 Firefighters learn early in their careers that removing one or more legs of the traditional “fire triangle” will cause a fire to be extinguished.
 With hoselines and portable fire extinguishers, we learn to use diverse materials (e.g., dry chemical, foam, dry powder, water) that perform one or more of the functions of removing heat, oxygen or fuel from a fire.
 In the commercial cooking environment, pre-engineered fire protection systems are designed and installed to extinguish fires in a variety of different liquid fuels. Modern wet chemical suppression systems rely on the interaction with the suppression chemical and the cooking oil to saponify (convert the oils into soapy like substances), resulting in effective fire control and easier post-fire cleanup.
 Saponification describes the chemical reaction where the animal or vegetable fats are mixed with a strong alkali resulting in soap, water and glycerin. When the fire protection system operates manually or automatically, it introduces the alkali solution that reacts with the fatty acids in the cooking oil. The combination of substances creates a foamy blanket that restricts the release of additional oil vapors and cools the cooking oil surface below its ignition temperature. 
 The agent is discharged as a fine mist from the fire suppression nozzle to make it more likely to spread gently on the oil surface to prevent turbulence. As water leaks from the foam blanket, it helps cool the cooking oil. Class K portable fire extinguishers are provided in the cooking area to be used to repair the foam blanket should any part of it be disturbed. (See Coffee Break Training 2006-38.) 
 The Class K extinguisher should be used only after the fire suppression system has operated.
 Wet chemical fire suppression systems for cooking surfaces have become the modern standard in commercial kitchens. Dry chemical systems, that were popular until the late 1990s, should by now have been phased out, unless they are protecting the cooking fuels and equipment for which they originally were designed and installed. 
 For more information, consider enrolling in the National Fire Academy (NFA) course “Fire Inspection Principles” (R/N0220). Information and applications can be obtained at nfacourses/catalog/details/47. The course is available at the NFA in Emmitsburg, Maryland, or through your state fire service training agency.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Volunteers are needed to man the restored Wolf Mountain fire tower #CAFire

CAL FIRE is reopening an old school firefighting tool.

Thanks to a donation of $27,000 from Pacific Gas and Electric, CAL FIRE is able to repair and put back into operation the Wolf Mountain fire tower used by volunteer lookouts to spot wildfires more quickly.

The structure had been badly vandalized and was unusable, but grant money is not only restoring the tower but also making the site more secure.

Wolf Mountain once again an active lookout staffed during fire season

Volunteers are needed to man the tower this summer June through October. , so you can call CAL FIRE if you have time and don't mind being alone for long period of time.

Wolf Mountain Fire Lookout is located in Nevada County near Grass Valley, California in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

GPS: 39°08'02.2"N 121°06'00.6"W

CalFire fire tower volunteer line: (530) 889-0111

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sugar Road Fire Large BS Fire At Tracy Dairy Generating Smoke - Air Quality Alert #CaFire #BSFire



HEALTH ADVISORY: Fire impacts northern region Tracy blaze prompts health caution A large biomass fire near Tracy has prompted local air officials to issue a health cautionary statement for the northern counties of San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced, particularly the communities of Lathrop, Manteca and Modesto. 
 The caution is in place until the fire is extinguished. Smoke from fires produces fine-particulate matter (PM2.5), which can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks, and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. 
 Where conditions warrant, people with heart or lung disease should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of particulate exposure. Additionally, older adults and children should avoid prolonged exposure or heavy exertion, depending on their local conditions. People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people are especially susceptible to health effects from these pollutants. Air District officials urge residents to follow their doctors’ orders when exposed to fire emissions
For more information, visit or call a District office in Fresno (559-230-6000), Modesto (209- 557-6400) or Bakersfield (661-392-5500)

UPDATE: Piles of wood started that started burning Monday at the Tracy Storage Facility for Agra Marketing of Chico, 20400 S. Tracy Blvd., have sent brown smoke drifting over north Tracy.

What: A large biomass fire that’s been burning since Monday near Tracy led air officials to issue a health cautionary statement for San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties, particularly the communities of Lathrop, Manteca and Modesto. The caution is in place until the fire is extinguished, according to a news release Tuesday from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

A captain with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection office in Tracy who had not been on the scene called it a wood chip or debris fire that takes a lot of time, water and foam to put out. Such fires tend to smolder and often require dozers to move around the fuel so hot spots are exposed and extinguished, he said. CBS 13 in Sacramento reported that what’s burning are piles of almond hulls.

Location: The fire is in the area of Sugar Road at North Tracy Boulevard, north of Interstate 205.

Smoke Health concerns: Smoke from fires produces fine-particulate matter (PM2.5), which can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks, and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, according to the air district. Where conditions warrant, people with heart or lung disease should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of particulate exposure. Additionally, older adults and children should avoid prolonged exposure or heavy exertion, depending on their local conditions.

People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people are especially susceptible to health effects from these pollutants. Air district officials urge residents to follow doctors’ orders when exposed to fire emissions.

The air district also provides the Real-Time Air Advisory Network, which delivers monitoring data directly to users’ computers. The free service is at

School employees who see or smell the smoke near their campuses should keep students inside per the Real-Time Outdoor Activity Risk guidelines for Level 5 conditions at

For more information, visit or call the air district office in Modesto at (209) 557-6400.
Read more here:

Friday, May 15, 2015

LAFD Los Angeles Harbor Youth Fire Academy 2015 Graduation #CAFire

Los Angeles - The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) has sponsored the high school Fire Instruction Recruitment and Education (FIRE) program since 1999, providing equipment and personnel as needed. The program offers training for high school cadets in firefighting and emergency services; students served by this program change their perspective and their vision for the future. The program currently serves students from the Harbor and Valley area high schools.
LACFA loge

The Los Angeles Harbor Youth Fire Academy will run from March 21 through May 16, 2015 at Drill Tower 40 in San Pedro.  There are 9 local high schools that will be participating in this year’s Fire Academy:  Academy Medical Arts, Academy of Educational Empowerment, Banning High School, Carson High School, Harbor Teacher Preparatory, Mary Star High School, Narbonne High School, Rancho Dominquez Preparatory High School, and San Pedro High School.  Each student has filled out an application and was hand selected by a counselor. There are over 75 Cadets participating in the Spring 2015 program.
All are invited to attend the Los Angeles Harbor Youth Fire Academy Graduation 2015
Saturday May 16, 2015
2:00 p.m.4:00 p.m.
At the Los Angeles Fire Department Drill Tower 40 
Academy Goals
  • To provide students with a career objective, motivating them to complete and excel in high school and continue on to college.
  • To offer a standard curriculum related to a career as a firefighter.
  • To provide classes based upon the LAFD firefighter-training program.
  • To offer students support for success by including faculty from their high schools to serve as trainers and facilitators.
  • To maintain a 50/50 ratio of boys to girls to meet LAFD recruitment goals.
The fire instruction, recruitment, and education offered in this academy are geared towards teaching the cadets:
High School Students lined up

  • The importance of staying in school and continuing on in their education.
  • The real meaning of teamwork and becoming a role model for others.
  • About city government and the chain-of-command in the fire department.
  • The skills and tools used by the fire department and the importance of a
  • Firefighter being fit and strong in mind and body.
  • Motivation and perseverance when challenged physically and mentally and
Academy Support
The following are support affiliations that have helped to expand the F.I.R.E. Academy efforts
  • (Fire Academy Support Team (FAST) Foundation – This board has been in existence for the last four years and recently secured non-profit status from the IRS. Their purpose has been to fund the academy through grants and fundraising efforts.
  • Honda Motor Corporation Foundation – Over the past several years this foundation has provided the FIRE Academy with $125,000 in funding.
  • Los Angeles Fire Foundation – has secured a grant from Motorola, Inc for $60,000 to support the logistical needs of the programs.
  • United Teachers of Los Angeles – because our program works with fully credentialed teachers and counselors from LAUSD we have gained the full support of their union and look forward to their continued support of our students and staff.
Currently the FIRE program is offered at 20 different area high schools and has graduated more than 1000 students. This after-school program has won the hearts of the students, their parents and teachers and offers hands-on experience that is truly unique.

Home Page: 
News & Info:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Agencies declare beginning of 2015 fire season “Interagency Declaration for the 2015 Wildland Fire Season” #CAFire

Sequoia National Forest will join Kern County Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management, and CALFIRE in Bakersfield tomorrow to announce the beginning of the 2015 Fire Season

Agencies declare beginning of 2015 fire season“Interagency Declaration for the 2015 Wildland Fire Season” 

Release Date: May 14, 2015

Kern County, CA - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Cal Fire and Kern County Fire Department (KCFD) will announce an “Interagency Declaration for the 2015 Wildland Fire Season” at 10 AM on Friday, May 15, 2015. Fire officials, representing all agencies, will make the announcement at the press conference to be held at Kern County Fire Department Headquarters located at 5642 Victor Street, Bakersfield, CA.
The declaration will cover all lands within the following jurisdictions:
forest lands managed by the Sequoia National Forest located in Fresno, Tulare and
Kern Counties and will include the Giant Sequoia National Monument;
public lands managed by the BLM Bakersfield Field Office throughout Tulare, Fresno, Kings, Kern, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties;
public and private land under the direct protection of the Kern County Fire Department;
and SRA (State Response Area) lands protected by the Kern County Fire Department.

Fire season officially begins when seasonal firefighting equipment and personnel are in place, prepared, and ready to respond. Homeowners living in the Wildland Urban Interface are reminded to complete their defensible space by clearing hazardous dry vegetation away from their homes, outbuildings and property. State law requires property owners to clear a minimum of 100 feet from any structure. Property clearance for fuels reduction work must be completed by June 15th.
Be Fire Safe!

If you plan on visiting the Sequoia National Forest or BLM lands, visitors must have a California Campfire Permit in their possession for the use of wood fires, charcoal barbecues, and portable gas stoves using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel. These permits are free and can be obtained from any Forest Service, BLM or California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Office. With the potential for a hot and dry summer ahead, fire officials urge the public to “ Please Be Fire Safe,” when visiting our forests and public lands. Communities need to be prepared!

Wildfires can be damaging. It’s a clear choice, “Be Fire Wise!”
Public Information Officer Contacts:
Tyler Townsend, KCFD (661) 391-7000
Ruth Ellison, BLM (661) 391-6000
Cody Norris, USFS (760) 376-3781
Daniel Berlant, CAL FIRE (916) 651-3473


Monday, May 11, 2015

USDAgov posted a photo: Panorama of the Geronimo Interagency Hotshot Crew along forest road #ORFire

Panorama of the Geronimo Interagency Hotshot Crew along forest road
Panorama of the Geronimo Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) as they keep watch on their burnout along a forest road. This will help stop the main fire when it comes to this location in the Big Windy Complex, approximately 15 miles west of Interstate 5 and northeast of Galice, OR, on Friday, Aug 9, 2013 in Oregon. The Geronimo Hotshots are from the San Carlos Apache Tribal Natural Resources Program, in San Carlos AZ. Hotshots are highly trained wild land firefighters that normally work in remote locations under arduous conditions.

Credit: USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CAL FIRE NEWS: Coastside Wildland Fire Training Event #CAFire

Wildland Fire Training Event Scheduled

Half Moon Bay – The Coastside Fire Protection District will be participating in a county-wide wildland fire training event on May 9th in El Granada. The purpose of the training drill is to gather cooperating fire agencies and resources to practice skills and coordination to be utilized in the event of a wildfire. Local residents can expect 15 to 20 fire engines, a firefighting bulldozer, a CAL FIRE helicopter and a Ben Lomond Fire Crew to gather near El Granada Boulevard, Quarry Park and the northeast corner of Miramar between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 9th. These county-wide drills will also occur on May 12th in Brisbane and May 16th in Woodside with cooperating firefighting resources from those areas.

CAL FIRE Unit Chief, Scotty Jalbert, said, “I am thrilled for this opportunity to exercise our resources along with fire personnel from outside the area. In the event of a fire, it will benefit all of us. San Mateo County is known for the amazing cooperation among fire departments across jurisdictional boundaries, working together to provide the best emergency services to our citizens.”

As your local firefighters gear up for a busy fire season, we ask local residents to also prepare by creating and maintaining defensible space around homes. Visit the website to learn about what to do within the 30 foot zone and the 100 foot zone surrounding your home. Don’t mow or trim dry grass during a Red Flag Warning Day, and be sure to mow before 10 a.m. on a day when it’s not hot and windy. Also visit for information about preventing wildfires.

CONTACT: Angela Bernheisel Division Chief
(831) 475-8643


Monday, April 27, 2015

CA-LAC- #HighwaterFire Los Angeles County #Wildfire Getting good control No homes damaged #CAFire

CA-LAC-Highwater Los Angeles County Wildfire

LA County Firehawk over #HighwaterFire
Pic: ABC News
Update 12:55 - No injury; No formal acreage figure yet available; No homes damaged, mostly due to compliance with brush clearance standards

Evacuations: St. Euphrasia School in Granada Hills has been evacuated, parents asked to pick up kids immediately 
Road Closures: LAPD requesting CHP close on- and off-ramps for 118 Fwy from Reseda to 405 Fwy
Update 12:35 - Getting control, Alpha division looking good, chasing some spot fires. LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey states bulk of Granada Hills fire has been contained. Update 11:45: - 15+ acres Spotting to the south with immediate structure threat. LA County Fire has 17 engines, 10 hand crews, 3 helicopters, 2 dozers in addition to the LA city resources, 5 additional BCs were requested to the additional 15 engines requested for staging. Pulling resources out of the canyon and shifting resources to structure defense. LA City Fire reporting 200+ personnel assigned.

Location: - 12300 blk Highwater Rd. Granada Hills.  #CAFire
15 acres in Granada Hills/Porter Ranch,
IA Resources: - Requesting 15 additional engines to stage at Zelzah & Rinaldi
ROC: - High winds with rapid rate of spread
ROS: - Rapid ROS
Structure Threats: - Helco advising the entire canyon is surrounded by homes.
Situation Concerns/Alerts: -
Situation Comments: -
Additional Resource Notes: - E7,77,88,81,107,21,104,39,98,496,103,83
TF1031 E103, 496, 83
TF1032 E77, 88, 81
TF1033 E107, 21, 104
TF1035 E7, 98, 39
Agency Website: -
Radio Frequencies: -
Online Scanners:
Weather: -
Web Cams/Live Video: -


Thursday, April 9, 2015

CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott Addressed Scandal at Fire Academy #CaFire #BadFireman

The director of CAL FIRE finally addressed the scandal at its academy.

Cal Fire director ‘repulsed and embarrassed’ by academy scandal

Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, shown here in a budget committee last year, on Thursday asked Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott about the scandal at the Ione Academy.

Read more here:

Cal Fire’s Ione Academy scandal came up during Thursday’s Senate budget subcommittee hearing when Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen asked department Director Ken Pimlott, “Have you been able to in any way to investigate other of the sites, other institutions, other locations, other camps, just to see if there have been any problems there? Have you heard of any reported, or is this all we’re dealing with now?”

Pimlott, who hasn’t made himself available to The Bee for an interview, gave this answer: “The issues identified at the academy are limited to the academy. However, any time something like this is presented, I have a responsibility to make sure that this is not a systemic issue throughout the department.

“What we have done very aggressively is, as I’ve mentioned, I have met with all of our managers – I have 21 unit chiefs who are responsible for managing operationally the entire department – I have met with them multiple times including just as late as last week. We’ve had that very discussion, the expectation that they are all taking a look internally to their operations with my expectation this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

“I will tell you straight up, the feedback – no different than me – they are all repulsed and embarrassed by what occurred at the academy and they are taking this very seriously. They want to make sure this does not happen on their watch, under their control.

“And again, when you have 7,000 employees I would like to be able to sit here and tell you that every last one of them is behaving. I know I can’t say that verbatim, but I can tell you that as soon as those things come forward, by whatever means they come forward, we have very clear direction that they are to be taken care of very swiftly and appropriately.”

Source: BY JON ORTIZ, JORTIZ@SACBEE.COM 04/09/2015 4:57 PM

SBCSD Victor Valley deputies hurt arresting suspect following pursuit now under investigation #CALaw

Advisory: Victor Valley deputies arrest suspect following vehicle/horseback pursuit.
Three deputies were injured during the search, two suffered dehydration and a third was injured when kicked by the horse. All three were transported to the hospital for treatment. Pic Credit: 

“The video surrounding this arrest is disturbing and I have ordered an internal investigation be conducted immediately”, stated Sheriff John McMahon. He further stated, “In addition, members of the Specialized Investigations Detail are responding to conduct the criminal investigation.” 
DATE/TIME: Thursday, April 9, 2015 12:12 p.m. 

INCIDENT: Search Warrant/Pursuit 

LOCATION: 25300 block of Zuni Rd., Unincorporated area of Apple Valley 

VICTIM: Three San Bernardino Co. Sheriff’s Deputies 

SUSPECT: Francis Jared Pusok, 30, Apple Valley 

On Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 12:12 p.m. deputies from the Victor Valley station went to the Zuni Rd. residence to serve a search warrant related to an Identity Theft investigation. Upon arrival the suspect, Francis Pusok, fled the location in a vehicle. Deputies pursued Pusok through the unicorporated area of Apple Valley, the Town of Apple Valley and further into the unincorporated area of Hesperia. Pusok abandoned the vehicle southwest of Bowen Ranch and fled on foot. Deputies were actively searching for Pusok on foot, using off-highway vehicles and helicopters. Within minutes, deputies received information that the suspect came into contact with a group of people near the Deep Creek Hot Springs and stole a horse. He fled on horseback on dirt trails, through very rugged, steep terrain, causing numerous injuries to the horse. 

A Sheriff’s helicopter inserted a team of deputies in the area of Hwy 173/Arrowhead Lake Rd. to take the suspect in to custody. Deputies made contact with Pusok and as they approached, the horse threw him off. A Taser was deployed but was ineffective due to his loose clothing. A use of force occurred during the arrest. An internal investigation will be conducted regarding the use of force. 

“The video surrounding this arrest is disturbing and I have ordered an internal investigation be conducted immediately”, stated Sheriff John McMahon. He further stated, “In addition, members of the Specialized Investigations Detail are responding to conduct the criminal investigation.” 

Three deputies were injured during the search, two suffered dehydration and a third was injured when kicked by the horse. All three were transported to the hospital for treatment. 

Pusok was transported to a local hospital with unknown injuries. 

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is urged to contact Sergeant James Evans at (760)552-6800. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or you may leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at

Refer: Public Affairs 
Phone No. (909)387-3700 

John McMahon, Sheriff-Coroner 
San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department
For full details, view this message on the web.
Victor Valley deputies arrest suspect following vehicle/horseback pursuit.


Unlocking History: Pine Grove camp once served as military barracks

Unlocking History: Pine Grove camp once served as military barracks

Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp once served as the Civilian Conservation Corps campsite in the 1930s and as military barracks during World War II. The camp was rebuilt in 1968.
Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp once served as the Civilian Conservation Corps campsite in the 1930s and as military barracks during World War II. The camp was rebuilt in 1968.

Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp continues tradition of training young offenders

(Editor’s Note: Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp is marking its 70th year with an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 10, at the camp at 13630 Aqueduct-Volcano Road, Pine Grove. This story is part of an ongoing series exploring this history of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.)
By Don Chaddock, InsideCDCR editor
Historical photos compiled by Eric Owens, CDCR staff photographer
The year was 1945. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away and Harry S. Truman became president. The U.S. and its Allies were thick in World War II, defeating Germany in May and setting their sights on Japan.
Meanwhile, a Youth Conservation Camp was founded the same year. Originally, the camp was nestled in the Big Trees State Park in Calaveras County under an agreement with the state Division of Beaches and Parks, according to camp records.
A nearby camp of a different nature, established a decade earlier during the Great Depression, would soon become the home of the Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp.
From civilian to military
Responding to massive unemployment in 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps was established as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. The average young man enrolling in the program had been out of work for seven years, was undernourished and physically weak, according to “A New Deal Body Politic: Landscape Labor and the Civilian Conservation Corps,” authored by Neil Maher.
One such Civilian Conservation Corps camp was established at Pine Grove in Amador County, known as camp P-209.
Robert Miller, at Pine Grove, wrote in a Conservation Corps newspaper at the time, “I enrolled as a boy, unsteady, groping, unsure. I had doubted my right to call myself a man.”
By the mid-1930s, the Corps was in full swing training young men to fight fires, build roads, construct watch towers and teach them job skills.
A report, issued by the Corps in April 1936, touted the benefits of the program.
“(The Corps) greatly increased the value of the forest and added to its usefulness to the public,” the report stated.
In June 1942, Congress abolished the Civilian Conservation Corps, clearing the way for a new use of the camp.
The call of war
In 1942, the military assumed control of the defunct Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Pine Grove. The soldiers were tasked with guarding railroad bridges, power stations and other key areas in California. The transfer to the California National Guard was effective Dec. 1, 1942, according to the California State Military Museum.
The camp featured 26 buildings, five of them serving as barracks.
Making the move
The war ended and the military vacated the campsite in late 1945.
Around this time, Gov. Earl Warren appointed Karl Holton as director of a newly revamped Youth Authority.
“In cooperation with the State Park Commission, 50 boys were transferred directly from county jails to Calaveras Big Trees Park where, under the supervision of skilled tradesmen, they built a camp of 100-boy capacity,” Holton wrote in a 1950 article for the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. “Portable buildings at Benicia State Guard Camp were dismantled there and transported to the Park. While this camp operated for only one season, it did relieve some of the pressure. … Under agreement with the State Division of Forestry, Department of Natural Resources, the Youth Authority began the construction of forestry camps for boys in 1945.”
Holton also described some of the goals of the forestry camps like Pine Grove.
“Extensive forestry projects are carried on. These include reforestation, road construction, telephone installation and repair, blister rust control and forest fire fighting. In each camp the primary purpose of the project is training and every boy is taught the skills necessary for any job before he is assigned to it,” he wrote.
In 1946, the Youth Conservation Camp relocated from Big Trees to Pine Grove on land leased from Lillian Payton, according to a Pine Grove brochure.
According to camp records, the workers were housed in existing structures and nearby forestry stations. Old buildings were demolished and much of the material was reused to construct new buildings, according to records.
“Floors were repaired and then replaced, walls patched, plumbing and heating repaired until it was no longer feasible to continue,” the document states.
The camp was rebuilt in 1968.
The camp was rebuilt in 1968.
Rebuilding the camp
In 1962, 98 acres were purchased, including the originally leased 40 acres. In 1967, forestry trailers were brought in to house the camp population while the old buildings were torn down.
The area was cleared, graded and new construction began. Again, they salvaged and reused what they could, according to the document.
On March 4, 1968, new plans were laid out for the camp. By May 1969, construction was completed and the camp was fully occupied.
Shiny and new
Richard Waldo was a group supervisor at Pine Grove in the mid-1970s. He started his career with the department in 1971.
“The buildings were fairly new when I started working there,” he said. “They were only a few years old.”
He said he was usually alone at the camp and worked at night. Some nights were more exciting than others.
“My fondest memories were when we had escapes and catching the guys, not letting them get away,” he said. “I chased one down through the mountains on foot and caught him.”
Aside from the occasional escape, he said he enjoyed his time at Pine Grove.
“I developed a softball diamond at the camp,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s still there or not. I took a crew out and we hoed out the weeds and diamond so we could play softball.”
He said he still vividly recalls the layout of the camp.
“There was a barracks building where the wards stayed and there was an office building that held administrators and employees for fire (and the prison system), the warehouse, a separate kitchen building,” he said. “There was a staff barracks (for prison staff) and I stayed there for several months.”
He also remembers the cook at the time.
“Old Jim Bowie, our cook, used to haul his trailer behind his pick up and park it when he was on duty,” he said.
He said his reasons for joining the department mirrored those of many others.
“I joined the department because I needed a job,” he chuckled. “Actually, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to help with some of these juvenile delinquents, not knowing what I was going into. I had aspirations of becoming a counselor, which I did when I transferred from camp to the complex in Stockton. I was a counselor for 13 years there and crossed back over to a sergeant in custody and then promoted to lieutenant.”
He continued in the juvenile field.
“I developed the Northern California work program where I placed different wards at job sites that needed to be done with specific skills,” he said.
Waldo said his time at Pine Grove was special.
“I really enjoyed camp and I tried to go back up there as a counselor because I really enjoyed the area and the atmosphere,” he said. “It was much better than down here in the valley but I never made it back up there.”
Lt. Waldo retired in 1996 after 25 years of state service. His is a founding director of the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation and the organization’s current National Director and Treasurer.
Community involvement
For more than a dozen years, Richard Forster served as a Youth Correctional Counselor at the camp, retiring in 2012. Today, he serves as the District 2 Supervisor for Amador County.
“It’s a good facility and they’ve done a lot of good things in the communities,” Forster said. “The camp has done a phenomenal job. They put in a lot of community services.”
In 2010, the camp celebrated 65 years and Forster was there.
“We were overwhelmed for a little while,” he recalled. “We had the open house and we have over 500 or 600 people there.”
Then CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate meets the youth offenders during the 65th anniversary open house at Pine Grove in 2010.
Then CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate meets the youth offenders during the 65th anniversary open house at Pine Grove in 2010.
The Secretary at the time, Matthew Cate, visited the camp during the open house as well.
“We’re glad the camp is in Amador County,” Forster said. “The community loves the camp. Besides fire suppression, they do lots of community projects.”
One of their more popular annual projects is creating Christmas boughs.
“I usually go pick up the wreaths,” Forster said.
The boughs are distributed to cities and unincorporated communities in Amador County as well as a few in Calaveras County.
A 1996-1997 Amador County Grand Jury report summed up their annual review of operations with a glowing endorsement.
“The Pine Grove Camp is well run. The staff is committed to providing a positive environment for the wards,” the report states. “The Camp is an asset to the community and provides necessary, and sometimes critical, services to the surrounding areas.”

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