A Year End Message from the California Fire Foundation

A Look to the Future

For many, 2020 has been a very difficult year but as we move into the holiday season, we are reminded that the spirit of the holidays is unwavering.  The holidays will always represent togetherness even if we cannot be together, they will always represent hope for a brighter tomorrow and the California Fire Foundation will always be here to help those in need through those toughest of times.

2020 may have tested resolve but nothing can alter our mission at the California Fire Foundation – we proudly offer our help to our firefighters, their families and the communities they serve and that will never change.

STEPPING UP IN THE HOUR OF NEED

The year began with our continued efforts to help those impacted by the catastrophic wildfires of 2018 and 2019.  The California Firefighters Benevolent Fund, now in its 3rd year, helps firefighters who are displaced or impacted by fire or natural disaster. At the beginning of the year many families, including firefighter families, were still reeling from the loss and devastation of the deadliest wildfires in our state’s history.  As we continued with those efforts, the world was dealt an unprecedented blow- the COVD-19 pandemic.  Our California firefighters stepped up to support families and communities through this pandemic.   At the California Fire Foundation, we heard that call to action, rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

As California and the world continued to wrestle with the COVID-19 outbreak, the California Fire Foundation stepped forward to help communities severely impacted by the pandemic.  Just as California firefighters are on the front lines of wildfires and other natural disasters, so too are the many organizations supporting families and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Foundation launched an ongoing commitment through a network of community-based organizations to provide much-needed COVID relief in the form of food, shelter, clothing and even emotional support.  This relief effort, through our Disaster Relief program, will support community-based organizations on the front lines helping those facing the greatest risk from COVID-19.

We desperately want to continue that commitment and aid the various food banks and economic groups in their ongoing efforts to help their communities in some of the hardest hit regions of the state and thanks to support from our generous donors large and small, we can continue our integral work.

HISTORIC WILDFIRES DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC

Fire seasons are getting longer with each passing year, but the wildfires of 2020 were unparalleled and came at a time when communities were already heavily impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The largest fires in our state’s history including the August and North Complex fires, the SCU and LNU Lightning Complex fires, shattered wildfire records.  Thousands of California firefighters worked tirelessly for our communities, day in and day out and when the catastrophic wildfires of 2020 struck many of our firefighters remained on the front lines, even as their own homes were lost.

During such fast-moving and chaotic disaster situations, the California Fire Foundation provides funds to organizations giving direct relief to affected communities.

In addition, the Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program enables our state’s firefighters and the Foundation to provide immediate support when it is needed most.  The SAVE program provides immediate relief to those affected by fire or natural disaster by way of a $250 gift card that can be used for food, lodging, medicine and other vital needs.

With your support this year we distributed over $2 million to directly help disaster victims, provide equipment and supplies to fire departments and prepare fire prone communities to help support them through a wide range of disasters.

CALIFORNIA FIREFIGHTERS MEMORIAL TRIBUTE

Every year since 2002, we have honored the fallen firefighters and their families by performing the sobering task of adding the names of the fallen to the Memorial Wall at Capitol Park in Sacramento.  As we navigated the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the Foundation created the 2020 California Firefighters Memorial Tribute video in lieu of the in-person ceremony.  As part of tribute, names of 32 fallen California firefighters were engraved on the California Firefighters Memorial Wall at California State Capitol Park, Sacramento. In addition to the commemorative video tribute, all 32 fallen heroes from 2020 will be honored at the 2021 Memorial Ceremony.  It is thanks in part to your donations that we can continue this solemn tradition and ensure we pay tribute to the men and women who pay the ultimate price to protect us.

As we emerge from the shadow of 2020, we are reminded of all the generous financial support we have received throughout the year, a year that has brought hardship and adversity to so many.  We understand there are many organizations needing support through these difficult times, and we are so very humbled by your unwavering dedication to the California Fire Foundation.

As difficult as this year has been, we have reasons to be thankful and optimistic.  The outpouring of compassion and support has been overwhelming and in our hour of need you responded. Your support makes the California Fire Foundation’s work possible and for that we are eternally grateful.

On behalf of our Board of Directors and the California Fire Foundation staff, thank you for supporting us through 2020 and we wish you a happy and safe New Year.

Rick Martinez, Executive Director

California Fire Foundation