I was just perusing the latest issue of Fire Management Today, Volume 70, No. 3. As usual, it has several articles that look interesting, including the lead article by Tom Harbour, Director of Fire and Aviation Management for the U. S. Forest Service. He mentions that he has been in that position for 5 1/2 years and it is his goal to make it an even decade before stepping down. It would be interesting to know how many years his predecessors served in the rarefied atmosphere of D.C. before becoming a victim of the vagaries of politics.
It is stunning that Fire Management Today was first published 74 years ago in 1936 and is still going strong today. They say they are now on Volume #70, so the publication must have skipped a few years, perhaps during World War II when many industries shut down in order to support the war effort, or due to an inability to obtain supplies or manpower.
I have mixed feelings about the fact that they are still publishing. On the positive side, it is an excellent publication that is providing a service to the world of wildland fire, as evidenced by the latest issue. On the other hand, you have to wonder to what degree this federal government project is competing or interfering with private enterprise.
The International Association of Wildland Fire was founded in 1989 and began publishing Wildfire magazine shortly thereafter. Wildland Firefighter published for a few years in the mid 2000′s but finally folded, most likely as a result of too few subscribers and inadequate advertising revenue. Wildfire, which struggled at times and survived some near-death experiences years ago, appears to be healthy now and is still sending out six issues a year. After at times having as few as 26 pages in an issue (January/February 2010) during most of this year each one has had 42 to 46 pages.
Government employees publish Fire Management Today four times a year without any advertising revenue. The Government Printing Office will sell you a one year subscription to the dead tree edition for $24. Or, you can get electronic versions for free on the Internet, compliments of the U. S. taxpayers.
If the federal government were not subsidizing this publication, I wonder if the fates and economic health of Wildland Firefighter and Wildfire would be any different?