To create an effective and efficient wildland fire management program, the Department of the Interior cultivates partnerships with a wide range of federal agencies, states, Tribes, local land managers, and other stakeholders.

American firefighters arriving at airport in Sydney, Australia, holding a U.S. flag.

A group of American firefighters arriving at the airport in Sydney, Australia, to assist with suppression efforts during an unprecedented Australian bushfire season. Photo by the National Interagency Fire Center

Quick Facts

2: Number of Cabinet-level agencies that manage wildland fire.
13: Number of federal government bureaus and offices that directly or indirectly support wildland fire management.
40: Number of research projects completed as part of the Joint Fire Science Program in 2022.
278: Number of partnerships with formal grants and agreements managed by the Department of the Interior to support wildland fire and fuels management across the country.

The Wildland Fire Community

In wildland fire management, you really can’t go it alone. Facing the challenges posed by a force of nature that burns across landscapes, without regard for ownership or administrative boundaries, requires collaboration. On any wildfire, you'll find people wearing yellow shirts, green pants, high leather boots, and low-slung packs. The uniformity of their appearance might give the impression that a single command guides their efforts. In fact, a firefighter may work for any one of the dozens of federal agencies, Tribes, state institutions, cities, or private companies that work together to meet the challenges of one of the most complex and high-risk activities in land management. Welcome to the wildland fire community.

The core of today's wildland fire management "all hands, all lands" approach lies in a National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy that recognizes the importance of shared priorities on shared landscapes. The strategy identifies three goals that anchor holistic wildland fire management across the country: 

  1. Restore and maintain landscapes
  2. Create fire-adapted communities
  3. Improve fire response

Cooperative agreements between members of the wildland fire community allow us to share resources (including people and equipment) to efficiently protect people and communities. An Executive Order issued in December 2018 reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to collaboration and partnerships at the state and local level.

Wildland fire will always be with us. It’s an element of nature with the power to restore as well as ruin. After spending a century fighting fire, even trying to stamp it out entirely, we now work to build resilience to it. Partnerships hold the key to long-term wildland fire management that protects people, their property, and the natural and cultural resources we all enjoy. 

Federal Partners

One of the primary wildland fire partnerships is between the two Cabinet-level departments that manage wildland fire on behalf of the federal government. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior collaborate on planning, policy, response, technology, and many other aspects of wildland fire management. Within the Department of the Interior, several offices support wildland fire management, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the U.S. Forest Service.

Within the Department of the Interior, several offices support wildland fire management work, including the Office of Wildland Fire, the Office of Aviation Services, and the Office of Policy Analysis

A handful of other government agencies play specific roles in the wildland fire community, like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Fire Administration, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Weather Service.

Non-Federal Partners

Many organizations facilitate collaboration with local governments, state agencies, Tribal entities, and other stakeholders in the wildland fire community, including:

* Lands managed by the Department of the Interior share 23,900 miles of border with Native American and Alaska Native lands. Their proximity and interconnectedness necessitates collaboration in order to protect Tribal communities, economies, sacred landscapes, and traditional uses of natural resources from wildfires. On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Interior signed a memorandum of understanding with the Intertribal Timber Council to improve collaboration on wildland fire management across department and Tribal lands.

International Partners

Since the threat of wildfires extends beyond our borders, the wildland fire community reaches beyond them as well. We exchange wildland fire knowledge, expertise, equipment, and personnel through international agreements with Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and Portugal. Australia and New Zealand have sent fire suppression personnel to the United States six times since 2000, most recently in 2018, and Australia sent an airtanker to assist the U.S. in 2022. We’ve sent fire suppression personnel to Australia six times since 2003 – most recently in 2019 and 2020. We share personnel and equipment with Canada virtually every year. In 2020, 100 firefighters from Mexico mobilized to assist firefighting efforts in the Western United States.

Coordinating Groups

Many interagency groups and partnerships support coordination and collaboration around specific issues:

Get Involved

You can play an active role in building resilience to wildland fire. Learn what you can do to protect your home, your community, and more at Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, FirewiseUSA, and Ready, Set, Go!.

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