Department of Defense joins NWCG board

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) has added the DoD as a primary member of its executive board.

“A key function of NWCG is the establishment of standards for the wildland fire community,” said Shane McDonald, NWCG Executive Board Chair. “With the addition of DoD to the Executive Board, they will now be a part of the process to help create the common operating framework for wildland fire resources.”

Across its 27 million acres of land used for training and testing, DoD manages about a million acres for wildland fire, according to a press release from the Homeland Security news. Including the DoD on the NWCG board acknowledges the cross-jurisdictional nature of wildfire and will contribute to the interagency approach of the federal agencies in charge of fire management.

NWCG provides national leadership to enable coordinated wildland fire operations among federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners. Other primary members of NWCG include the Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Association of State Foresters, U.S. Fire Administration, Intertribal Timber Council, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Associate members include the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire and the National Weather Service. The NWCG priorities include training, operations standards, qualifications, IT requirements, research, policy, and safety. More info is available on the NWCG website.

NWCG agencies

WUI wildfire mitigation desk reference guide

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WUI GuideThe National Wildfire Coordinating Group has created a Wildland-Urban Interface Wildfire Mitigation Desk Reference Guide that is designed to provide basic background information on relevant programs and terminology for community members and agency personnel who are seeking to enhance their community’s wildfire mitigation efforts.

The four primary objectives of the reference guide are to:

  • Provide a reference to assist with integrating wildland-urban interface mitigation principles into national wildland fire training;
  • Promote common wildfire mitigation language and culture;
  • Establish an authoritative source for wildland-urban interface mitigation information; and
  • Provide consistent definitions for use by all media

Click here to view the document.

Wildland Fire Qualification System Guide, 310-1, updated

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group has released an update of the Wildland Fire Qualification System Guide (PMS 310-1). The document provides a cornerstone of the National Incident Management System by establishing minimum interagency qualification requirements for national mobilization of resources. While the October, 2014 update closely resembles the previous version, the new edition includes significant changes, including:

• Incident Business Adviser Type 1 (IBA1) and Incident Business Adviser Type 2 (IBA2) have been combined to form the Incident Business Adviser (INBA) position.
• Established the Basic Faller (FAL3), Intermediate Faller (FAL2), and Advanced Faller (FAL1) positions.
• Introduction of Planning Section Chief Type 3 (PSC3), Logistics Section Chief Type 3 (LSC3), Operations Section Chief Type 3 (OPS3), and Finance Section Chief Type 3 (FSC3) position standards.

Oddly, the announcement from the NWCG about the 310-1 revision, which was sent to the entire world of wildland fire, contained numerous typos and misspellings. That made us wonder, until we researched it further, if it was a legitimate directive or a scam.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Jonah.

NWCG reconfigures Incident Management Teams

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group has decided to make a major change in the configuration of Wildland Fire Incident Management Teams (IMTs). Saying “the current workforce management and succession planning for wildfire incident management is not sustainable”, the plan is for Type 1 Incident Management Teams and Type 2 Incident Management Teams to evolve into “Complex IMTs”.

Going forward the organization will be recognizing three levels of interagency wildland fire response: Initial Attack, Extended Attack, and Complex. As part of this transition, State and Federally sponsored Type 1 and Type 2 Wildland Fire IMTs will evolve into “Complex IMTs” utilizing current Type 1 standards as their guiding principles.

This change was a product of the Evolving Incident Management project which recommended a reduction in federally sponsored IMTs from the current 53 to 40, with State sponsored teams assisting with a national surge capacity. There is still a lot to be figured out, including transition plans, the distribution of IMTs across the Geographic Areas, and their capacity to sponsor and fill the positions on the teams.

The memo from the NWCG.


Thanks go out to Ken

Wildfire briefing, May 8, 2013

The Japanese bombed an Oregon forest — in 1942

The only time during World War II when Japanese forces bombed the American mainland occurred in 1942. They loaded a small airplane with two incendiary bombs, launched it from a submarine off the Oregon coast, and tried to set the state on fire. It did not work out too well for the Japanese. Apparently there was no wildland Fire Behavior Analyst on the submarine’s crew.

Here is an excerpt from an article at DVICE:

…[From his lookout tower Keith] Johnson didn’t see the submarine as it surfaced. The boat creaked as its bow broke through the waves to the surface of the Pacific Ocean. A loud bell gave the “all clear” for the men to spring into action. On board that I-25 submarine was a single engine Yokosuki E14Y aircraft. This small, two passenger float plane was compact enough to store in a submarine but had enough power in its nine cylinder 340 hp radial engine to carry bombs on light attack missions. A team of men rolled the plane out its hangar that stood next to the conning tower, unfolded its wings and tail, then loaded two 176 pound incendiary bombs underneath its wings…


But when the fog lifted [Howard] Gardner saw smoke. He called for help then set off towards the fire, which he assumed was a remnant from a lightning strike fire that had sparked the previous day. What he and his men found was a smoldering fire covering a circular area 50 to 75 feet across. They quickly got the fire under control and found a crater about three feet in diameter and about one foot deep at the centre of the site. Inside was evidence of intense heat, hot enough to fuse earth and rocks.

Sky lanterns banned in California county

We have written about sky lanterns or fire balloons several times, including the legislation being considered in Oregon to ban these devices which can start fires in structures and the wildland.

Here is an excerpt from The Tribune about a county in southern California prohibiting them under most conditions:

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed an ordinance prohibiting the ignition and launching of sky lanterns in the county areas outside the incorporated cities and fire districts. The ordinance goes into effect in 30 days.

A sky lantern — an airborne paper lantern sometimes called a “Chinese lantern” — is similar to a miniature hot air balloon. It is powered by a fuel cell or candle that heats the air, fills the balloon and makes the lantern fly up into the sky.

“What seems harmless is not, and these lanterns pose a serious threat to the citizens, property, and wildland areas of San Luis Obispo County,” said Cal Fire Chief Rob Lewin.


UPDATE at 9:14 p.m. MT, May 8, 2013:

After posting the above about the sky lanterns, we heard from Dietra A. Myers Tremblay who is studying Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance at the University of Hawaii. She said:

In regards to your May 8, 2013 Wildfire Briefing on sky lanterns, in 2012, Hawaii enacted a state law that prohibits the sale, offer for sale, distribution, possession, ignition, or other use of aerial luminaries also known as sky lanterns, Hawaii lanterns, and flying luminaries.

A link to Section 132-19, Hawaii Revised Statutes. And here is another useful link to the bill status.


NWCG publishes course revision status

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group has published the revision status of some of their courses. Here is a screen grab from a portion of the document (click on it to see a larger version):

NWCG course revision status, May, 2013

Fire truck runs over firefighter dressed as a bear

The article in the North Devon Journal in the United Kingdom does not mention Smokey Bear:

A firefighter dressed as a bear was run over by a fire engine during Torrington Carnival on Saturday night.

Justin Matthews, landlord at the Cavalier Inn in Well Street, was taking part in the town’s annual carnival when the incident happened at around 7pm.

Mr Matthews, who is a retained firefighter, was walking in front of the fire engine when he got caught up in the wheel of the vehicle.

The incident happened as the carnival was making its way around the roundabout next to Torrington Cottage Hospital at the top of Calf Street.

The procession was stopped while ambulance crews treated the firefighter at the scene.

Ellen Vernon, who lives in Torrington, said there was “horror” among the crowd as everyone realised what had happened.

Fire Aviation news

Check out the latest news about Fire Aviation:


Thanks go out to Kelly and Kirk.

Fireline Handbook replaced

Fireline HandbookThe Fireline Handbook has been retired and replaced with an electronic file, a .pdf, called Wildland Fire Incident Management Field Guide (PMS 210).

May it rest in peace.

A memo released by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) suggests that the new 148-page document “can be printed locally in a standard 8½” x 11”, three-ring binder format.”

When it was first introduced, the Fireline Handbook, PMS 410-1, was appropriately named, fitting easily in your hand and pocket. Over several decades it became bloated as committees kept adding everything they could think of to it until it was over an inch thick and weighed almost a pound (15 ounces). It grew to 430 pages without the optional Fire Behavior Appendix and barely fit into a pants pocket. It was last updated in 2004.

The Fireline Handbook has become less valuable as other reference guides have been introduced, including the The Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG) and the Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations, better known as the Red Book. The newer guides had some of the same information as the Fireline Handbook.

The Wildland Fire Incident Management Field Guide still has some information that is duplicated in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG) and FEMA’s National Incident Management System Emergency Responder Field Operating Guide (ERFOG), but according to the NWCG, which published the new guide, the documents have different purposes and user groups.

Wildfire Today first wrote about the possible demise of the Fireline Handbook in March, 2011.