Generally it’s the U.S. Forest Service and the other federal land management agencies that receive much of the attention when many wildfires are burning around the country. But a large portion of the credit for suppressing them should go to the fire organizations in the states. On Tuesday the National Association of State Foresters issued the following statement about their role.
NASF Wildland Fire Expert Addresses Current Fire Situation
WASHINGTON—As the western United States continues to experience significant wildland fire activity, state forestry agencies are working around-the-clock with their partners in fire suppression. State Foresters—the directors of state forestry agencies—allocate resources, ensure public information and safety, and provide technical expertise and personnel needed to fight fires safely and effectively.
State and local resources are first to respond to approximately 75 percent of all wildland fires in the United States. These agencies provide critical resources and experience to wildland fire management and suppression as part of the coordinated national wildfire response. State forestry agencies also support prevention and mitigation efforts to reduce the threat of fire in the first place.
Bob Harrington, Montana State Forester and chair of the National Association of State Foresters Wildland Fire Committee said today:
“The United States is facing significant fire activity in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, California, and the Great Basin, and in the Southwest and Southern regions as well. This level of fire activity has not occurred since 2007, and firefighting resources are scarce despite sharing of resources across the country.”
“With evacuations, structures burning and communities and infrastructure at risk, the role of state forestry agencies has never been more critical. Of the more than 32,000 personnel currently assigned to large fires, a significant percentage are employed or mobilized by state forestry agencies.”
“In an average year, states typically deploy an average of $1.6 billion in personnel and resources towards the prevention, control, and management of wildfire.”
“In addition to the state supported response, state foresters work with the USDA Forest Service to deliver the State Fire Assistance and Volunteer Fire Assistance programs, which together provide resources to reduce hazardous fuels and to train and equip first responders. In fiscal year 2014 more than 102,000 firefighters received wildland fire training through these programs. Nearly 11,900 communities were assisted by SFA and VFA during this same time period.”
The National Association of State Foresters is comprised of the directors of state and territorial forestry agencies and the District of Columbia. NASF seeks to advance sustainable forestry, conservation, and protection of forestlands and their associated resources. Learn more at www.stateforesters.org.