Wildland Fire Policy

Wildland Firefighter

The Office of Wildland Fire ensures that the Department's wildland fire activities are consistent with all applicable laws, regulations, and the Department's Strategic Plan.  The Office works in collaboration with the bureaus within the Department, other Federal agencies, and non-federal partners and stakeholders, including tribes, states, counties, cities, and non-governmental organizations. 

Wildland Fire Management policy uses the best available science and emerging technologies, direction, and guidance found in statute and federal regulations.  Policies are consistent throughout the Department, and promote and encourage interoperability with other Federal and non-federal wildland fire organizations and entities. 

The Office of Wildland Fire issues policy through the following, each of which is available in the Electronic Library of Interior Policies (ELIPS)​:

  1. Departmental Manuals (DMs): The Departmental Manuals provide strategic, overarching policy that includes defining responsibilities and objectives.
  2. Office of Wildland Fire Policy Memoranda: Policy Memoranda may be used to provide policy with limited duration or serve as interim policy until incorporated into the Departmental Manual and/or appropriate handbook.
  3. Office of Wildland Fire Handbooks: Handbooks supplement Departmental Manual Chapters and provide detailed guidance to implement the operational aspects of the wildland fire management program.  Handbooks include procedures, processes, protocols, or similar provisions that are mandatory for all employees, supervisors, or managers. 

Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations

The Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations or "Red Book" is a handbook that states, references, or supplements policy and provides program direction for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) wildland fire and wildland fire aviation program management.

Federal Wildland Fire Policy

The 2009:  Guidance for Implementation of Federal Wildland Fire Management serves to advise and guide implementation of the 2001 Review and Update of the 1995 Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy, which replaced the previously policy and program review in order to clarify purpose and intent and to address issues not fully covered in the 1995 policy.  

The 1995:  Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy and Program Review was completed to encourage a more proactive, cooperative, and cohesive approach to the management of wildland fires.  The report affirms that wildland fire is a natural process that is critical to ecosystem health and should be reintroduced where it had been removed to maintain and restore ecosystems when safe to do so.  The report established that every area with burnable vegetation would have an approved Fire Management Plan and that agency administrators must have the ability to choose from a range of actions, from suppression to prescribed burning for ecological benefit.  

The 1998:  Final Report on Fire Management Policy was completed to recommend actions to address the problems experienced during the 1988 fire season.  

Secretarial Order 3336:  Rangeland Fire Prevention, Restoration, and Management

The Order emphasizes that rangeland fire management is a critical priority for "protecting, conserving, and restsoring the health of the sagebrush-steppe ecosystem and, in particular, greater sage-grouse habitat, while maintaining safe and efficient fire management operations."

The 2017 Wildland Fire Directive

The Directive encourages aggressive fuels reduction and pre-suppression techniques to prevent and combat the spread of catastrophic wildfires.  

Links to Bureau-Specific Fire Policies

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Bureau of Land Management

National Park Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service