Laura Ward named Fire Management Officer of the year.

Above: Laura Ward. Courtesy photo.

Laura Ward, the Fire Management Officer (FMO) of the Lolo National Forest in Montana, was recently named Forest Service Fire Management Officer of the Year by a national committee and was honored in a ceremony in Missoula on April, 19.

The FMO of the Year Committee selected Ms. Ward from a field of nominees from across the nation, representing all other Forest Service Regions and National Forests.

Ms. Ward, who has worked in western Montana for 18 years, is responsible for managing and implementing the fire operations across the five Ranger Districts and approximately two million acres of the Lolo National Forest. She helped develop and implement several regional and national programs in 2016 as well as provided oversight and leadership for the Lolo National Forest’s Critical Incident Management Plan, an organizational framework that identifies roles, responsibilities and required actions for responding to critical incidents. Ward was recognized in the award for her professional skills and leadership in working closely with multiple partners and agencies to manage a complex program involving fire operations, fuels management and air quality.

“Laura has made significant contributions at the local, regional and national level to advance the fire program,” said Tim Garcia, Forest Supervisor for the Lolo National Forest. “Her leadership is exceptional and the strength of the relationships she has developed with our local and state partners has been instrumental in our success.

Ms. Ward began her Forest Service career in Lowell, Oregon as a GS-1 employee on a Brush Disposal crew on the Willamette National Forest in 1985 and later worked as a firefighter on three Districts on that Forest until 1989. She then worked on the Umpqua National Forest as a fuels technician and then with the Wolf Creek Job Corps in a “detailed overhead position” with the Job Corps Hotshot Crew.  She was promoted to the Fuels Assistant Fire management Officer (AFMO) in the mid-nineties and later worked as the Fuels/Suppression AFMO for the Umpqua National Forest. In 1999 she was selected as a District FMO for the Ninemile Ranger District on the Lolo National Forest and worked on that district for 11 years.  In 2010 Ms. Ward was selected as the Lolo National Forest FMO, located at the Forest Supervisor’s Office at Fort Missoula.

“The award was a total surprise,” she said. “I’m honored to have been nominated and selected.  The best part of the job is all the great people you get to work with and there are many individuals deserving of this type of recognition.”

Prescribed fire video from Texas

Above: screen shot from the video.

The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife has distributed a six-minute video about prescribed fire with an interesting title: The Business of Burning. It is beautifully photographed and is apparently intended to introduce good fire to those who are unfamiliar with the concept.

Some may think the repeated use of the term “grunt” to describe young firefighters is politically incorrect.

Chris Schenck, the department’s Statewide Fire Program Leader, said the video has been in production for a year. Their goal is each year to treat with prescribed fire 30,000 acres of Public Lands Wildlife Management Areas.

Red Flag Warnings, April 24, 2017

The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for areas in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado.

The map was current as of 9 a.m. MDT on Monday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts.

Revisiting the Norbeck prescribed fire

In case you missed it, here is the video we shot at a prescribed fire in South Dakota in 2014.

The Alpine Hotshots, a National Park Service hotshot crew from Colorado, is shown using drip torches to ignite vegetation on the Norbeck Section 2 prescribed fire. The project which began October 20, 2014 involved almost 2,000 acres in Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, Black Hills National Forest, and private land.

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Interview with Dan Buckley, NPS Fire Director

In this interview with Dan Buckley, the National Fire Director for the National Park Service, he talked about Unmanned Aerial Systems, 75 drone pilots in the BLM, extending the terms of seasonal firefighters, prescribed fire, air tankers, tracking the fire and firefighters, and the work environment in the National Park Service.

It was recorded April 20, 2017 at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.