Area Command Team ordered for southeast Arizona fires

Rowdy Muir’s Area Command Team (ACT) has been mobilized to the Coronado National Forest. This is somewhat surprising because ACT’s have, in my opinion, been significantly underutilized for the last several years.

The June 26 National Situation Report listed two large fires on the Coronado.

coronado national forest fires

The Saddle Fire, not listed above, has burned almost 5,000 acres 19 miles northeast of Douglas since it started June 24.

In the 24 hour period that ended Sunday morning approximately 392 lightning strikes were detected in the Forest.

National Forests R3
Map showing the Coronado National Forest in southeast Arizona and the other Forests in the Southwest Geographic Area.
Even last year when there were many large fires burning in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, no ACT’s were mobilized. You might wonder if any of the fires would have turned out differently if there had been a group of highly skilled personnel looking at the big picture, helping to obtain resources, analyzing the weather forecast, and utilizing short and long range fire behavior predictions.

An ACT may be used to oversee the management of large incidents or those to which multiple Incident Management Teams have been assigned. They can take some of the workload off the local administrative unit when they have multiple incidents going at the same time. Your typical Forest or Park is not usually staffed to supervise two or more Incident Management Teams fighting fire in their area. An ACT can provide decision support to Multi-Agency Coordination Groups for allocating scarce resources and help mitigate the span of control for the local Agency Administrator. They also ensure that incidents are properly managed, coordinate team transitions, and evaluate Incident Management Teams.

National ACTs are managed by the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) and are comprised of the following:

  • Area Commander (ACDR);
  • Assistant Area Commander, Planning (AAPC);
  • Assistant Area Commander, Logistics (AALC);
  • Area Command Aviation Coordinator (ACAC); and
  • Two trainees.

They usually have an additional 2 to 15 specialists, including Fire Information, Situation Unit Leader, Resource Unit Leader, and sometimes others such as Safety, and Long Term Planning, or assistants in Planning, Logistics, or Aviation.

In 2015 the number of ACT’s was cut from four to three.

This year, besides Rowdy Muir, the other two Area Commanders of the teams are Joe Stutler and Tim Sexton.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Area Command Team ordered for southeast Arizona fires”

  1. Thanks for the article Bill. There are so many times when arguably the use of an ACT would resulted in a better outcome.


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