Howard Forest Station
Howard Forest Station is a CAL Fire station and emergency command center (ECC) in Mendocino County, California, located along U.S. Route 101 and 5 miles (8 km) south of the city of Willits. The Howard Forest ECC serves as a secondary public safety answering point (PSAP) for fire and emergency medical services in largely unincorporated Mendocino County. The compound is also the location of the Howard Forest Helitack Base and serves as the headquarters of the Mendocino Ranger Unit.
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Forest Fire Station
Howard Forest covers a 50-mile (80 km) initial attack response area that contains over 2,800,000 acres (11,000 km2) of state land, and over 730,000 acres (3,000 km2) of US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. Two fire engines respond from Howard Forest station during peak fire season, each staffed with a crew of three (one officer, two firefighters.) Assigned to the facility are three fire captains, three fire apparatus engineers and ten seasonal firefighters.
The Howard Forest Helitack Base crew includes two pilots, four fire captains, two Fire Apparatus Engineers and twelve seasonal firefighters. This crew staffs a UH-1 H helicopter with call sign Copter 101. The helitack crew logs an average of 412 flight hours per year and responds to both fires and medical emergencies.
When CAL Fire began to develop a helitack program in 1970, it was decided that helitack bases would be established in areas where they could most easily protect high-value timberlands and critical watershed areas in northern and central California. Subsequently two bases were created for Mendocino County and the surrounding area to protect the high-value timber industry in this region. Starting in 1972, the first was located at Howard Forest, with call sign Copter 100, while the second was at CDF's Laytonville Forest Fire Station near the town of Laytonville with call sign 101. In 1981, Laytonville helitack and Copter 101 was moved to its current location at Howard Forest; Copter 100 and its helitack crew was disbanded. Laytonville's helipad and fueling facilities are still maintained as a secondary base and mid-mission refueling location.
Emergency Command Center
In addition to all CAL Fire units within the county, Howard Forest is also responsible for dispatching multiple local entities including 19 Local Government Fire Agencies, 7 Ambulance Agencies, REHIT Hazardous Materials Team, and BLM Law Enforcement in Lake and Mendocino Counties.