Wildland Fire Management Preparedness
The Department of the Interior's wildland fire mission includes protecting property and natural and cultural resources from the detrimental effects of wildfires while providing for firefighter and public safety. The wildland fire management program funds preparedness activities on more than 500 million acres of public lands. The Interior bureaus carry out wildfire response in national parks, wildlife refuges and preserves, Indian reservations and tribal lands, and on other public lands. These diverse lands include historic and cultural sites, commercial forests, rangelands, and valuable wildlife habitat, as well as some lands managed by other Federal and state agencies.
Preparedness is the result of activities that are planned and implemented prior to wildland fire ignitions. Preparedness is a continuous process that includes developing and maintaining unit, state, regional, and national level firefighting infrastructure, predicting fire activity, hiring, training, equipping, and deploying firefighters, evaluating performance, correcting deficiencies, and improving overall operations. The preparedness process includes routine pre-season actions as well as incremental in-season actions conducted in response to increasing fire danger.
Fire management plans provide the basis for wildland fire preparedness staffing and equipment. In the planning process consideration is given to planned contributions from interagency-shared resources, required training, wildfire prevention and detection, as well as land use guidance on appropriate response to wildfires to meet management and protection objectives. Deployment of the Department's wildfire prevention and wildfire response resources are based on these fire management plans, considering current year predicted fire activity, and in coordination with interagency fire cooperators, and state and local wildfire protection authorities.
Wildland fire recognizes no ownership or jurisdictional boundaries on the landscape; nor do the complex issues of fire management. As a result, perhaps nowhere is the practice of interagency and interdepartmental cooperation as prevalent and effective as in the nation's wildland fire community. The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service manage and has primary fire program responsibilities on more than 500 million acres of public lands.
Wildfire response resources are critical to the effective management of wildfires to meet protection and natural and cultural resource management objectives. Federal wildfire management agencies emphasize risk-informed wildfire response that takes aggressive suppression actions when required to protect life, property, and other assets at risk, while minimizing wildfire response actions in areas where risks are low and benefits can be derived from managing wildfires to reduce fuels and future wildfire potential, to meet natural and cultural resource management objectives, or to increase safety by reducing firefighter exposure. This practice of managing wildfires for multiple objectives allows the use of fire managementstrategies and tactics to manage risk, meet protection and resource objectives, and reduce overall cost.
Burned Area Emergency Response
Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) identifies imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural or cultural resources on Department of the Interior lands and takes immediate actions to manage unacceptable risks.
Emergency Stabilization (ES) response actions are taken during and immediately following a wildfire to reduce the effects of floods, landslides, and erosion by stabilizing stream banks and soils to reduce further resource damage.
The Burned Area Rehabilitation program protects resources by maintaining proper function inwatersheds and landscapes, and by beginning the recovery of fire-damaged lands. Theseobjectives are achieved by such actions as reseeding to control invasive species, maintainingsoil productivity, rehabilitating tribal trust resources, repairing wildlife habitat, and repairingminor facilities damaged by wildfire.
Rod Bloms, Fire Operations Specialist