Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

Intermountain Regional Director Mike Snyder emphasizes safety during his opening address.

2009 Pacific West and Intermountain Regions Fire Management Workshop: Developing Staff to Lead Changes in Fire Management

Intermountain Regional Office, Colorado

The Pacific West and Intermountain Region held a three-day joint fire management workshop for more than 100 park level Fire Management Officers and Assistant Fire Management Officers in San Antonio, Texas during the last week of January. Some Chief Rangers and Superintendents were also in attendance. The Pacific West and Intermountain Regions met jointly for a day and a half, followed by a day and a half of regional breakout sessions. The theme of the workshop was "developing staff to lead changes in fire management."

Intermountain Regional Director Mike Snyder emphasized the agency's commitment to safety during his opening remarks. The highlight of the workshop was a presentation on the status of the Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy Implementation Strategy by Dick Bahr, Fire Science and Ecology Program Lead for the Fire Management Program Center. Other national and regional fire management staff also gave presentations and led discussions on organizational change and fire policy; fuels and fire ecology; and program management and operations. Topics included decision support systems, budget, training and development, climate change, smoke, air quality, and lessons learned. The joint session included a heart-wrenching presentation by a panel of line officers and agency administrators who shared their critical incident management and special accident investigation team (SAIT) experiences during the course of several recent tragic fireline fatalities, including the death of Olympic National Park Firefighter Andy Palmer, 18, who lost his life on a hazard tree felling assignment on the fireline in Northern California.

Several guest speakers also shared their expertise, including Al Hyde, formerly of the Brookings Institute, who provided long-term perspective assoicated with the Quadrennial Fire Review and encouraged fire managers to reimagine what fire management can be. Tom Swetnam, Director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research & Professor of Dendrochronology at the University of Arizona also challenged fire mangers to consider how we can make ecosystems more resilient to the effects of climate change.

The Pacific West Region breakout sessions focused on workforce development while the Intermountain Region held a range of discussions. Topics included fuels updates, policy implementation implications, training and mentoring programs, new weather tools and products, and lessons learned. A variety of budget related topics were also addressed including business rules, accountability, contracting and acquisition, and capital equipment. Regional staff worked with park Fire Management Officers to create action items to assist park level fire management programs.

Two optional training courses, Operational Leadership and M3-DOI Aviation Management for Supervisors, were offered prior to the workshop as well.

Contact: Michelle Fidler, Fire Communication and Education Specialist
Phone: (520) 733-5136