Sycuan Fire Department

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A Message from the Chief of Fire

As the Fire Chief, I take great pride in our Firefighters at Station One and our Golden Eagles Interagency Hotshot Crew as they carry out our mission statement, “to protect community, life, property, and the environment through the delivery of efficient and effective fire and life safety services”.

Chief Zack Carrillo of Sycuan Fire Department

Honor. Duty. Integrity. Commitment.

Four words that we at Sycuan Fire, take very seriously. We believe that serving the Reservation and community is an honor and we hold ourselves to the highest standards. Duty is not just responding to someone’s emergency. It is having the strength to do right, whether someone is watching or whether you are all alone. Without integrity we are hollow, it is our principles that cause us to do our best and help others in need. Finally, commitment. It is the culmination of honor, duty, and integrity. It means we are dedicated to service with faithfulness and loyalty to our community.

I hope you find the information on this web site to be helpful and beneficial. Whether you wish to learn more about our department and the way it operates or how to prevent fires and protect yourself in a variety of life and property-threatening situations. I thank you for visiting.

Zach Carrillo
Chief of Fire

Chief of Sycuan Fire Department

Zach Carrillo

Mission Statement

To protect community, life, property, and the environment through the delivery of efficient and effective fire and life safety services. Our Mission is accomplished through teamwork, innovation, education, preparedness, prevention, and emergency incident mitigation.


Sycuan Fire Department
5449 Sycuan Road
El Cajon, Ca. 92019


Sycuan Fire Department History

The Sycuan Fire Department was founded and established on October 11, 1974 by Tribal Elder and Fire Chief Henry (Hank) Murphy. Chief Murphy is a visionary who saw the importance and the need of a fire department for his Reservation. He took on the battle of zero monies, zero training opportunities in Indian Country and institutional prejudices to provide Sycuan Reservation with a much needed service that was not provided by the non-Reservation emergency service providers.

Sycuan Fire Department History

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, by agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, only provided wildfire suppression for six months during fire season. Indian Reservations were left at great risk without any type of emergency services for the other six months.

A newly formed agency, The San Diego Office of Fire Service was forming volunteer departments within the County to provide emergency services to the rural residents who were in the same situation as the 18 Indian Reservations in the County. The Fire Service Office provided equipment, training, and dispatch services and the local rural communities would provide the personnel. Sycuan entered into an agreement with a local Federal Manpower Training Program to help pay for firefighters. In 1978, Sycuan sent 14 personnel to a 360-hour fire academy at the Heartland Fire Training Center in El Cajon. All graduated as Fire-Fighter-I and EMT’s. These newly trained personnel returned to the Sycuan, Rincon and Viejas Reservations to staff their fire engines.

In 1989, Sycuan implemented an EMT ambulance service (Basic Life Support) for the Reservation, as well as for, adjacent non-Indian neighbors. In 1999, the Sycuan Fire Department was the very first fire department in the East County of San Diego to provide an Advance Life Support (ALS/Paramedic) assessment engine to the community and its neighbors.

Sycuan Fire Today

Today Sycuan operates; a 75’ Ladder Truck, a Type-I Structure Engine, a Type-III Wildland Engine, an Advanced Life Support (ALS) Ambulance, a Type-1 Water Tender and a reserve ALS Ambulance. The ambulance provides services to both the Reservation and the surrounding communities of Dehesa Valley, Harbison Canyon, Alpine and other communities serviced by Cal Fire and the Central Zone.

The Department operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week responding to all emergencies for the Reservation and its surrounding communities. The Department also has auto and mutual aid with Cal Fire, the Central Zone and is part of the County and State mass mutual aid agreements.

Sycuan Fire Department

Golden Eagles Interagency Hotshots Crew

"Committed to providing a valuable public service through a long-standing tradition of Professionalism, Leadership and Integrity."

Sycuan Fire Department History

Sycuan Fire Department also operates a Type-1 Interagency Hotshot Crew. The Golden Eagles Hotshots were first established as an organized Type II Hand Crew in May of 2000. The crew was funded by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation until they earned Type I Interagency Hotshots Crew Certification in October of 2006. From that point on the crew has been fully funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Pacific Region.

Interagency Hotshot Crews are a nationally shared resource, statused and assigned through the National Interagency Fire Coordination Center. The primary mission of an Interagency Hotshot Crew is to provide a safe, professional, mobile and highly skilled hand crew for all phases of All Risk/Fire management incident operations. We are proud to represent the Bureau of Indian Affairs and particularly the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation at the National level.

When not on a fire assignment, the Golden Eagles perform important duties which include; hazardous fuel reduction, fuel breaks, Timber Standing Improvement (TSI), and Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) projects. The projects are conducted on Reservations, National Forest Lands and City or County property using mechanical and prescribed burning.