Kim Zagaris or Chief Z as some call him is currently the Wildfire Policy and Technology Advisor for the Western Fire Chiefs Association. His position is new, create in response to the destructive wildfires that have unfolded across the west.
Chief Zagaris retired as State Fire and Rescue Chief for the State of California, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) a position he held for 18 years. Chief Zagaris has extensive background in fire service, emergency management, and homeland security which includes working with local, state, federal and international agencies over his 42 years fire service career. During his time he served under six Governor’s and has been actively involved in every major and catastrophic emergency in California as well several in the nation.
Chief Zagaris also served as the Executive Coordinator for Cal OES Fire and Rescue Services Advisory Committee/ FIRESCOPE Board of Directors provides a State level forum for addressing Statewide Mutual Aid, Incident Command System, Multi-Agency Coordination, Resource Typing, Training, Certification, Safety, Standardization and Fire Protection issues of statewide concern. Chief Zagaris was responsible for managing the FIRESCOPE Program, California Incident Command Certification System, the California Fire Assistance Agreement, and the State Assistance for Fire Equipment Program, as well as, serving on numerous state and national committees, associations and programs.
During his time with Cal OES he was able to expand the fire apparatus fleet from 106 Fire Apparatus to 300 Fire Apparatus. Chief Zagaris was responsible for several major program elements including the day-to-day management of the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, which includes over 1,100 fire agencies, and some 55,000 professional and volunteer firefighters that operate approximately 6,000 fire engines Statewide. In September of 2007 he was recognized by the California Fire Chiefs Association as the Fire Chief of the Year.
On January 2010 James Lee Witt, the former Director of the FEMA and the Co-Chaired of Protecting America.org the nation’s largest coalition of first responders, emergency management experts, businesses and insurers awarded the American Hero Award to Kim in recognition of his significant contributions made to better prepare and protect American families from the devastation of massive natural catastrophes.
On August of 2010 he was award the IAFC President’s Recognition Award by IAFC President Jeff Johnson “in recognition and honor of his willingness to apply his knowledge and experience to the improvement of the fire and emergency service’s understanding and capabilities in large-scale incident response. His straight forward leadership style, combined with vast field experience and his willingness to share what works with others, makes him a national leader on incident operations and command. He’s a tremendous resource and the voice of reason for many chiefs seeking solutions to both the natural and manmade threats facing our communities today”.
In October of 2016 he was recognized by the California State Fire Association, CSFA Presidents Hall of Fame Aware honoring him for “For Exceptional Contribution”.