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.

Short Course Helps Prepare Fire Information Officers

Grand Teton National Park / Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
National Fire Plan, Accountability*

There's no question that fires in Yellowstone or Grand Teton national parks draw attention. A 13-acre fire in Grand Teton prompted 750 visitor contacts one afternoon, due to visible smoke. Yellowstone fires typically draw national media attention, particularly if they are near any developed areas.

"Yellowstone fires definitely have baggage, whether it's from the 1988 fires or the fact that Yellowstone was the first national park," said Al Nash, Yellowstone's public affairs officer. "People are passionate about the park, and concerned about fires."

Nash teamed up with Traci Weaver, fire communication/education specialist, to teach a half-day crash course in fire information for employees from both parks and neighboring forests. Twenty-four people took the course, which covered several key factors of fire information.

"When we have fires, we have such a demand from the public for information that we rely on employees from all divisions in the park, as well as neighboring forests, to help us meet that demand," Nash said. "Just sending out a news release or posting information on the web will not reach the broad audience of visitors, park staff and concessionaires."

The short course touched on the Incident Command System (ICS), fire management and federal fire policy implementation guidance, traplines and roving fire information officers, terminology, talking points and accountability.

"We have many great communicators in the parks, but they are not necessarily familiar with fire and ICS," said Weaver. "This provided the opportunity to talk about consistent messages, PIO duties, the role of fire in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We couldn't cover all the material in a 29-hour Introduction to Incident Information course, but we were able to distribute information and tools, as well as build a network of potential PIOs."

Several attendees helped with fire information on fires in both parks during summer 2010.

Contact: Traci Weaver, Fire Communication and Education Specialist
Phone: (307) 739-3692

*This story supports Department of the Interior initiatives.