Wildland Fire Management Preparedness

Firefighters perform mop up on wildfire

Program Overview


The Preparedness program contributes toward The Department of the Interior Strategic Plan’s Mission Area #1, Goal #1, and Strategy #3 by managing fire to provide for public and firefighter safety in wildfire response.  “Respond to Wildfires” is one of three goals identified in the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy).  The other two goals are to “Maintain Resilient Landscapes” and “Creating Fire-Adapted Communities.”  The Wildland Fire Management (WFM) Preparedness program provides the capability to effectively and cost-efficiently respond to wildfires to meet protection objectives, and provide for public and firefighter safety.

The WFM mission includes protecting property and natural and cultural resources from the detrimental effects of wildfires while providing for firefighter and public safety.  The WFM 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.

Fire prevention, readiness, and wildfire response programs are implemented by Federal fire crews, or through cooperative protection agreements with other Federal and State agencies, through self-governing Tribes, and through contracts with private firms and vendors.  The bureaus enter into cooperative agreements with other Federal agencies as well as State, tribal, and local governments to leverage resources, gain efficiency, and reduce duplicative efforts.  Under these arrangements, protection responsibilities are exchanged and resources are shared.  These cooperative agreements help minimize overall protection costs for all parties and build relationships that are essential to development of a cohesive and coordinated response to manage wildfires, which is especially important when fires burn across land ownerships and multiple jurisdictional wildfire response agencies' administrative boundaries.

Wildland fire management activities within the Department are guided by fire management plans.  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.

The WFM program enhances the economic efficiency of managing preparedness resources by pooling DOI’s financial resources to provide national-shared fire management resources that are collectively identified through national interagency coordination and collaboration.  Such resources include retardant dropping air tankers, retardant bases, lead planes, interagency hotshot crews, smokejumpers, large transport planes, and technical predictive services and meteorological support staffs.  In addition to the program’s permanent, career-seasonal, and temporary firefighting positions, program management resources include permanent and career-seasonal professional staffs that provide leadership, coordination, program planning, dispatch, warehouse, and other support and logistical functions along with technical and administrative support for fire and aviation management activities.  Personnel funded from non- Preparedness programs (such as Fuels Management and other WFM programs) also support fire suppression activities and, together with Preparedness employees, comprise the Department’s core firefighting resources.  In addition to the core firefighting resources, other non-WFM funded employees throughout the Department maintain fire qualifications and support firefighting operations on an as- needed basis.