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avatar for Ken Pimlott

Ken Pimlott

Cal Fire
Former Chief
Chief Ken Pimlott began his 35 year fire service career in 1984 as a reserve fire fighter in Contra Costa County, California. He joined CAL FIRE in 1987 as a seasonal fire fighter, and ultimately worked his way through the ranks to Director, a position he held from 2010 until his retirement in December 2018. Chief Pimlott held a variety of positions and assignments in fire protection, resource management and administration throughout California during his career with CAL FIRE. He spent ten years in Southern California working both at Southern Operations in Riverside and the Riverside Unit, where he served as a field Division Chief and Fire Chief for the City of Moreno Valley through a cooperative agreement. In 2004, Chief Pimlott promoted into CAL FIRE Headquarters, where he held a variety of assignments, including the Deputy Director of Fire Protection, overseeing all of CAL FIRE’s fire protection program operations. In 2010, he was appointed Acting Director by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and in 2011, he was appointed to the position of Director by Governor Jerry Brown, where he not only served as the Chief of CAL FIRE, but also as California’s State Forester. Chief Pimlott has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forest Resource Management from Humboldt State University and an Associate of Arts Degree in Fire Technology from American River College. He is a Registered Professional Forester in California. Throughout his career he has served on a variety of committees and organizations including Co-Chairing the CA Tree Mortality Task Force and holding leadership positions with the Council of Western State Foresters. He has participated as a member of the National Association of State Foresters Fire Committee, California Homeland Security Advisory Committee, the California Drought Task Force, and the California Task Force on Climate Impacts. Under his leadership, CAL FIRE and the State of California battled historic wildfires and an unprecedented bark beetle epidemic while at the same time worked to increase the pace and scale of fuels treatment and forest management activities, including prescribed fire, across the State. Over the course of eight years as Director, he worked closely with the State Legislature and the Administration to double the Department’s budget to over $2.3 billion in response to the challenges from catastrophic wildfire and poor forest health. Chief Pimlott testified before Congress on multiple occasions in support of legislation related to forest management and fire protection, including the federal fire funding fix.