Geographic Areas release Wildland Fire Response Plans for COVID-19 Pandemic

Guidance for maintaining continuity of wildland fire response

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SW Area Pandemic Plan wildland fire

The Geographic Areas have started to release their Wildland Fire Response Plans for the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) assigned three Area Command Teams to work with partners at all levels in the fire community to develop protocols for wildfire response during the pandemic.  All of the teams worked directly with each Geographic Area’s Coordinating Group Chair, dispatch/coordination centers, and local units. They also worked under the direction and supervision of NMAC through a Team Coordinator (Joe Reinarz) and maintained frequent contact and communication through multiple daily briefings to the NMAC.

The Eastern Area released their plan in mid-April.

As this was updated at 1:36 p.m. MDT May 7, all of the plans are now available at the links below. NIFC had some problems with FireNET causing some of the links to not work over the last two days, but we were able to obtain from them direct links to the documents. Each one is about 80 to 110 pages.


California (Northern and Southern)

Eastern Area

Great Basin

Northern Rockies


Rocky Mountain

Southern Area


Let us know in a comment what you found most interesting in the plans.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

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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.

15 thoughts on “Geographic Areas release Wildland Fire Response Plans for COVID-19 Pandemic”

    1. I was able, without a Firenet account, to see the plans for Great Basin, Eastern, Northwest, Rocky Mountain, Southern, and Southwest. Could you not open them?

      1. Now I have tried ALL; only Alaska and California (‘me’) won’t open; “this item might not exist or is no longer available for both AK & CA. Tried more than once.

  1. I was able to open the SW document and save the pdf to my hard drive.
    Still reading through it.
    One thing I saw was the State of AZ will not be providing the 12 prison handline crews this year. The reason stated was a requirement by the State for a 21 day quarantine before being placed back in prison. It would create to much of a logistical issue.

    May have more after I have digested what the document has to say.

    1. Would you be willing to provide a brief summary for the rest of us? Frustrating that a ‘boots on the ground’ guy like myself is being kept in the dark

      1. CR….I am boots on the ground too……I can read the Southern Area all I get from it is ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK …..they want us to have clean PPE take a bath every night eat in your hotel room and have 3 days supplies not use the bathroom all day because most are closed……Lord knows what happens if you get exposed……Locked in a Jail Cell for 14 days with 1/2 pay ?

  2. CR:
    In a nut shell:
    Practice social distancing, work under module concept (that is keep assigned personnel togeather for the fire season, keep Nomex/cloths clean, disinfect tools, equipment and vehicle.

    For IA”
    • Create suppression strategies to minimize assigned personnel and incident duration.
    o Use predictive services and professional judgement to balance assigned resources and incident duration.
    • Use swift initial response to minimize possibility of large fire response, but do not employ higher risk tactics to keep fires small.
    • Minimize briefing size and limit face-to-face contact as much as possible.
    o Consider if operational briefings can occur over radio during initial response. o Limit face-to-face briefings to 10 leaders or fewer, if possible.
    o Inform responding cooperators of COVID-19 mitigation measures your agency has adopted.
    • Consider the application of aviation and mechanized assets to reduce assigned personnel.
    I would request a copy for the GA that you are in. It would help you the most.

    1. John and FFTR, thanks for sharing some information. It appears the document for CA is now available for all. Cheers

  3. I do not have a Fire Net account, so, I could not get access. Who put the Fire Net restriction on, and why?
    The reports do not have value unless people canno access and read.


    1. Larry, which ones could you not access? I don’t have a Firenet account and the only ones I could not open are Alaska and California.

  4. All, except NE and I read it, no problem about 3 weeks ago, but Firenet was not required.


  5. Beyond public law, agency policy, and executive directives, these documents describe “the plan” as we now know it for our nation’s response to wildfire during the time of COVID-19. In addition, the work by the FMB and MFPHAT will be crucial reference direction. Many of the IMTs are busy working with state and geographic area representatives to build more detailed, supplemental direction for wildfires that reach T2 or T1 complexity; readers expecting to work on those fires would be well served to seek and study those documents.

    There are parts and pieces of the WFRPs that are a little puzzling and sufficiently vague, regarding considerations for Strategy and Tactics:

    – Adapting existing wildland fire response plans to include all additional response options provided for in land and resource management plans.
    (Shouldn’t the existing response plans already reflect what is in the L&RMP? The L&RMP takes it’s direction and authority from public law and environmental analysis; it was completed specifically to guide management decisions, including response to wildland fire.)

    – Utilizing suppression strategies that will minimize the number of assigned personnel and reduce incident duration.
    (These two considerations can be contradictory. And by “exploring opportunities for more indirect attack” – also identified as a consideration – fire duration may be extended. This may cause some confusion in certain situations. Regardless, these are all important considerations, and would factor heavily into selecting a Course of Action using a Trade-Off Analysis. And there is no better tool than the RMA Trade-Off Analysis.)

    – Emphasizing containment strategies and evaluating magnitude and duration of mop-up to help minimize duration of assignment and potential exposure time.
    (Unfortunately, this is somewhat vague. Emphasize containment strategies instead of what? If you drill down deep into this consideration, it might be said more clearly as: TO THE GREATEST EXTENT POSSIBLE, MINIMIZE THE DURATION OF ALL INCIDENTS AND ALL ASSIGNMENTS, IN ORDER TO REDUCE EXPOSURE)

  6. I read these and the documents and feedback through the Widlland Fires lessons Learnt Centre with interest to look at how we might be able to apply them for our comiong fire season.

    thakn you to all for sharing.


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