Operational Inventions & Developments

Line drawing of city street scene in 1686. Courtesy of New York State Museum.

1638

Massachusetts Bans Smoking Outdoors

Massachusetts passed first law banning smoking outdoors. Passed because of heightened awareness of fire and associated devastation.

Image of Peter Stuyvesant.

1648

Peter Stuyvesant

Governor Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam (New York City) adopted building codes and established Fire Wardens to protect the settlement. This was the first fire organization in America.

RELATED ITEMS: Brief History of the Fire Service

Image of Ben Franklin.

1736

Ben FranklinBen Franklin helped establish the volunteer Union Fire Company and formed the first insurance company in the U.S. in 1752.

OCTOBER 29, 1804

William Clark Journal Entry

William Clark's entry for an incident is recorded near Ft. Mandan, North Dakota. This may be the first recorded wildland fire fatality and use of a fire shelter.

“The Prarie was Set on fire (or cought by accident) by a young man of the Mandins, the fire went with such velocity that it burnt to death a man & woman, who Could not get to any place of Safty, one man a woman & Child much burnt and Several narrowly escaped the flame. a boy half white was saved unhurt in the midst of the flaim" ."The couse of his being Saved was a Green buffalow Skin was thrown over him by his mother who perhaps had more fore Sight for the pertection of her Son, and [l]ess for herself than those who escaped the flame, the Fire did not burn under the Skin leaveing the grass round the boy. This fire passed our camp last [night] about 8 oClock P.M. it went with great rapitidity and looked Tremendious.”

REFERENCE ITEMS: From Bernard DeVoto, ed., The Journals of Lewis and Clark (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997 [1953]), p. 60.

Helena Fire Tower rebuilt in 1874. Courtesy of MontanaPictures.net.

1869

First Fire Tower

First fire tower built to protect buildings in Helena, Montana.

RELATED ITEMS: Helena Fire Tower

US Cavalry on horseback in Yellowstone National Park. Courtesy of National Park Service.

AUGUST 20, 1886

First Wildland Fire Fighters

Captain Moses Harris, Troop M, First US Cavalry assumes command of Yellowstone National Park. Their charge was the protection and administration of the park. The Cavalry remained in the park for the next 32 years. Within days of arriving at Yellowstone, soldiers began fighting wildfires throughout the park and were in reality the nation's first paid wildland fire fighters. Orders that set forth the regulations the soldiers would enforce included "Camping parties will only build fires when actually necessary."

REFERENCE ITEMS: How the U.S. Cavalry Saved Our National Parks, H. Duane Hampton, Indiana University Press, 1971.

Men camped by lake. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1889

Designated Campgrounds

In an attempt to reduce wildfires, Captain Boutelle ordered that camping be allowed only in designated areas. This led to the system of designated campgrounds now common on public lands.

REFERENCE ITEMS: How the U.S. Cavalry Saved Our National Parks, H. Duane Hampton, Indiana University Press, 1971.

US Cavalry posed near large fallent tree in Sequoia National Park. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1890

Military Assistance

Secretary of the Interior requests military assistance to administer and protect the new California parks, Yosemite, Sequoia and General Grant National Parks. Unlike Yellowstone, no permanent garrison was built and the military only occupied the parks during the summer months for patrols, fire fighting and protection activities. The military remained until 1914.

Soldiers on parade grounds in Yellowstone National Park. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1894

Yellowstone Wildfires

As visitors to Yellowstone increased so did the number of wildfires. The Cavalry discovered that increased vigilance on the part of fire patrols was necessary to protect the forest. The commanding officer insisted upon rigorous enforcement of the camping regulations that required expulsion from the park of any campers who left campfires burning. He found that "one or two expulsions each year served as healthy warnings" and that these reinforced by a system of frequent patrols, "brought about the particularly good results of which we can boast."

REFERENCE ITEMS: How the U.S. Cavalry Saved Our National Parks, H. Duane Hampton, Indiana University Press, 1971.

Man standing near Twin Sisters Lookout in Colorado. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1902

First Firewatch Lookout Tower

First firewatch lookout tower built to protect forest from fires built on private wood land in Idaho.

RELATED ITEMS: Silent Sentinels

Hamilton Mountain fire tower under construction. Courtesy of Adirondack Architectural Heritage.

1909

First Adirondacks Fire Tower

The first fire tower in the Adirondacks, made of logs, was erected on Mount Morris near Big Tupper Lake. Many others were built over the next several years.

RELATED ITEMS: Fire Towers of the Adirondacks: An Important Legacy with a Bright Future

Pulaski used in firefighting.

1911

Pulaski Fire Tool Invented

Pulaski fire tool invented and named after Ed Pulaski the hero of the 1910 Big Blowup.

RELATED ITEMS: Inventing the Pulaski Breaking New Ground

Woman fire lookout standing by an Osborne Fire Finder. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1914

First Woman

The first woman employed by the Forest Service as a lookout was Hallie M. Daggett, who started work at Eddy's Gulch Lookout Station atop Klamath Peak (Klamath NF) in the summer of 1913 (she worked as lookout for 14 years).

Fire lookout tower on Mount Hood, Oregon. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1915

U.S. Forest Service Fire Lookout

The U.S. Forest Service constructed its first fire lookout in Oregon, a 12-foot by 12-foot log cabin perched atop Mount Hood at an altitude of more than 11,200 feet.

Modern female firefighter carrying a pulaski. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1915

First Women Firefighters

Mrs. Durham, wife of one of the pioneer rangers on what was then known as the California National Forest, and her friend, Ms. Kloppenburg, were the first women firefighters. The California National Forest is now known as the Mendocino National Forest.

RELATED ITEMS: Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Wildfire History

Man leaning against weather station. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1916

Weather Forecasts

U.S. Weather Bureau, a part of the Department of Agriculture, began providing weather forecasts specific to wildland fire.

Woman fire lookout standing by an Osborne Fire Finder. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1918

Osborne Fire Finder

Fire towers begin using table maps and the Osborne Fire Finder to more accurately pinpoint fire locations.

RELATED ITEMS: Fire Towers of the Adirondacks: An Important Legacy with a Bright Future

1919

A Policy of Forestry for the Nation

A Policy of Forestry for the Nation, by Henry B. Graves, USFS Forester, presented before the Forestry Conferences of 1919 outlined the objectives of fire protection:

  1. To prevent destruction and injury to standing timber by fire.
  2. To safeguard young growth already established within the older timber and on cut-over lands.
  3. To promote natural reproduction so far as this can be done by fire protective measures.
Effective fire protection is achieved only through a joint undertaking between public and private agencies in which all lands, regardless of ownership, are brought under an organized system.

RELATED ITEMS: A Policy for the Forestry for the Nation

1922

Studies Of Fire Damage

US Forest Service Appalachian Forest Experiment Station conducted studies of fire damage on area burned under control.

RELATED ITEMS: Appalachian Forest Experiment Station, 1921-1934

Man leaning against weather station. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1923

Fire Weather Warning Service

The Fire Weather Warning Service was established by the U.S. Weather Bureau and was headquartered in San Francisco.

RELATED ITEMS: An Historical Chronology of Wildland Fire Research in the Interior Western United States, 1913-2000

Man working at weather station in forest. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1924

Fire Warning Service

US Forest Service Appalachian Forest Experiment Station works in collaboration with the local Weather Bureau office for the creation of a far-reaching and carefully organized fire warning service.

Missoula Technology & Development Center. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1926

Fire-control Research

Fire-control research begins in Missoula, Montana. Research continues today at the Missoula Fire Lab, and at labs in Macon, Georgia and Riverside, California.

Man leaning against weather station. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1926

First Daily Reporting

The first daily reporting of local fire weather data was transmitted to the Weather Bureau from Forest Service field stations.

RELATED ITEMS: An Historical Chronology of Wildland Fire Research in the Interior Western United States, 1913-2000

Osborne Photo Recording Transit used in panoramic photography. Courtesy of firetower.org.

1932

Osborne Photo Recording Transit

W.B. Osborne designed his Osborne Photo Recording Transit, a swing lens panoramic camera made by Lupold-Volpel of Portland, OR. It was used by the USDA Forest Service and turned out 120-degree 4" x 6" photographs.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt having lunch at Civilian Conversation Corps camp in Shenandoah National Park. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1933

Civilian Conservation Corps Established

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established:s

“…that the unemployed could work for the prevention of forest fires and for soil erosion, flood control, removal of undesirable plants, insect control, and construction or maintenance of paths, tracks, and fire lanes on public lands. ”

RELATED ITEMS: American Forests with the Civilian Conservation Corps Roosevelt's Tree Army

1933

Fire-weather Forecasting Service

After years of preliminary work, the badly needed and keenly desired fire-weather forecasting service was started in the spring of 1933 by L.T. Pierce, head of the Asheville office of the Weather Bureau. Through fifteen stations within the mountain district containing the Unaka, Nantahala, Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this service gathered data which was assembled and interpreted in the Asheville office, and from there distributed in various ways to serve depended on close cooperation between the experiment station and the Weather Bureau, for while the meteorological information comes from the latter, the weather conditions most likely to promote fires must be discovered through prolonged investigations.

RELATED ITEMS: American Forest Experiment Station, 1921-1934

View of firefighters parachuting into smoky fire. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1934

Smokejumping

Smokejumping was first proposed by T.V. Pearson, the Forest Service Intermountain Regional Forester, as a means to quickly provide initial attack on forest fires. By parachuting in, self-sufficient firefighters could arrive fresh and ready for the strenuous work of fighting fires in rugged terrain.

Pilot in cockpit holding parachute. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1935

Airplane Tests Began

Tests began on using airplanes to drop fire retardants. It was not until 1947 that a formal aerial bombing project began, with the christening of a B-29 bomber called the Rocky Mountain Ranger.

RELATED ITEMS: An Historical Chronology of Wildland Fire Research in the Interior Western United States, 1913-2000

Harry Gisborne using visibility meter he helped design. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1935

Visibility Meter Designed

Harry Gisborne and his staff at the Priest River Experiment Station designed the visibility meter to help gauge fire danger. Gisborne's fire-danger meter incorporated multiple components to estimate fire hazard, visibility combined with factors such as relative humidity, hours of sunshine, wind speed, and fuel moisture to create a unified rating. Using Gisborne's model, greater visibility corresponded to heightened fire danger.

RELATED ITEMS: Fire Research Instruments Harry Gisborne

Magazine cover of Fire Management Today. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1936

Fire Control Notes

Roy Headley, head of the U.S. Forest Service Division of Fire Control, introduced Fire Control Notes to establish "a common meeting ground" for wildland fire professionals. In 1961 the journal was renamed Fire Control Notes. Changes in wildland fire management policy in the 1970s led the journal to adopt a new name, Fire Management Notes, which was changed to Fire Management Today in 2000.

View of firefighters parachuting into smoky fire. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1939

Smokejumper Program

The smokejumper program was initiated as an experiment in the USFS Pacific Northwest Region and was partly designed to reduce the time it took for crews to reach a wildland fire after incidents such as the 1937 Blackwater Fire.

RELATED ITEMS: Some say you have to be crazy to jump out of an airplane into a forest fire, but smokejumpers can't wait for the next fire call.

Two parachutists silhouetted against clouds. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1940

First Fire Jump

The first fire jump was made on Idaho's Nez Perce National Forest in the Northern Region.

Civilian Conservation Corps building wooden suspension bridge in Yellowstone National Park. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1942

Civilian Conservation Corps

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) report that since 1933 every state had received permanent projects from "Roosevelt's Tree Army." Some of the specific accomplishments of the Corps during its existence included 3,470 fire towers erected, 97,000 miles of fire roads built, 4,235,000 man-days devoted to fighting fires, and more than three billion trees planted. Five hundred camps under control of the Soil Conservation Service, performed erosion control on more than 20 million acres. The CCC also made outstanding contributions in the development of recreational facilities in national, state, county and metropolitan parks.

Ford Tri-motor airplane and smokejumpers at McCall, ID Smokejumper baes in 1948. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

AUGUST 14, 1943

McCall Smokejumper Base

The first fire jump out of the McCall Smokejumper base was made by John Furguson and Lester Gohler at the head of Captain John Creek. The McCall Smokejumper Base was started in 1943 when five jumpers, who were trained in Missoula, Montana, were stationed in McCall.

RELATED ITEMS: McCall Smokejumper Base

San Dimas Equipment Development Center. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1945

Arcadia Fire Equipment Development Center

U.S. Forest Service established the Arcadia Fire Equipment Development Center. The center resulted from the consolidation of all Forest Service fire equipment problem-solving efforts into a "laboratory sufficient to serve the fire control requirements of the Western Regions."

RELATED ITEMS: USFS: Technology & Development

1958 vie of plane dropping fire retardant on fire. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1947

Aerial Bombing

The Northern Rocky Mountain Station published results of experiments with the Army Air Force in aerial bombing of forest fires, and published the results of investigations of aerial seeding of burned over timberlands.

Back view of six firefighters with tools. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1948

First Hotshot Crew

The first hotshot crew, the Los Padres Hotshots, was established on the Los Padres National Forest.

RELATED ITEMS: Los Padres Hotshots Crew History

Modern California inmate fire crew marching. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1949

Inmate Fire Crews

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) first implemented fire crews using adult male inmates when a tent camp operation was established at the Minewawa Camp in southern San Diego County.

Man with hardhat fighting fire using a backpack pump. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1952

Hardhats

Some Forest Service wildland fire fighters begin wearing hardhats.

Smokejumpers preparing to board plane. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1953

Missoula Aerial Equipment Development Center

The U.S. Forest Service Missoula Aerial Equipment Development Center was established largely because of the Northern Region's success in the use of aircraft for fighting forest fires. This center's mission was to develop equipment for air operations throughout the Forest Service.

Men with hose fighting fire in brush. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1953

Principles of Organization for Fighting Forest Fires

Principles of Organization for Fighting Forest Fires issued by the U.S. Forest Service.

RELATED ITEMS: USFS: Technology & Development

1958 view of plane dropping fire retardant on fire. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

AUGUST 12, 1955

First Air Tanker Drop

First Air Tanker Drop on a wildfire was made on the Mendonhall Fire, on the Mendocino National Forest. Vance Nolta Was the Pilot.

RELATED ITEMS: Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Wildfire History

1950s view of helicopter at Yosemite National Park. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1956

Helicopters

The first practical drops of water and chemicals onto wildfires began, and helicopters began to assist with firefighting in the 1950's.

Men standing near smoky fire in forest. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1957

Ten Standard Fire Orders

U.S. Forest Service convenes a special task force to study fires where firefighter fatalities occurred, and devise safety guidelines; among other recommendations, the Ten Standard Fire Orders (SFO) are implemented modeled after US Marine Corps general orders. In addition to the SFO, this report marks the origin of the 18 Watchout Situations and of the research into and use of fire behavior knowledge in wildland firefighting. It was also a milestone in the development of both National Advanced Resources Training Center and the incident command system.

RELATED ITEMS: Report of Task Force To Recommend Action to Reduce the Chances of Men Being Killed by Burning While Fighting Fire

Four early designs for fire shelters. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1958

Fire Shelters

Australians begin work on a bell shaped fire shelter made of aluminum foil/glass cloth laminate.

Four early designs for fire shelters. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1959

A-shaped Fire Shelter

Australians drop bell-shaped fire shelter and replace it with an A-shaped shelter. Work begins at USFS Missoula Equipment Development Center (MEDC) on fire shelters and fire resistant clothing.

Crew of firefighters marching on road. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1961

El Cariso Hotshots

El Cariso Hotshots field test early fire shelter design.

Old pickup truck parked near trailer and airplanes. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1962

Appalachian Air Tanker Project

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest join forces to establish the "Appalachian Air Tanker Project". This collaboration evolved into what is now the Southern Appalachian Air Attack Base—Knoxville Tanker Base. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest have enjoyed this relationship for 40 years and continue to enjoy this partnership to the present day.

Boise Interagency Fire Center entrance sign. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1965

Boise Interagency Fire Center

The Boise Interagency Fire Center (BIFC) was established cooperatively by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to improve fire and aviation support throughout much of the Great Basin and Intermountain West.

Students practicing use of fire shelters. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1966

Missoula Equipment Development Center

U.S. Forest Service Missoula Equipment Development Center (MEDC) adapts A-shaped fire shelter using aluminum foil/glass laminate with a kraft paper barrier inner liner.

Men standing near smoky fire in forest. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1967

Report of the Fire Safety Review Team

Report of the Fire Safety Review Team—A Plan to Further Reduce the Chances of Men Being Burned While Fighting Fires, 1967 released. Recommendations made were three significant changes: The Downhill Line Construction Checklist, and emphasis on portable weather equipment including direction and training for firefighters to use belt weather kits on the fireline, and the push to develop more effective fire shelters and fire resistant clothing.

View of fire shelter case. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1967

6000 Fire Shelters Ordered

Missoula Equipment Development Center orders 6000 fire shelters that include instruction sheet and carry case. This is essentially the same shelter that remains in use until the M-2002 shelter is developed.

RELATED ITEMS: Fire Shelter Information

Smokejumper landing. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1968

West Yellowstone Interagency Air Operations Center

West Yellowstone Interagency Air Operations Center was activated and smokejumpers made 14 jumps on five fires in the park the first year. The only NPS smokejumpers are still stationed here.

1971

Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies

Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies (FIRESCOPE) formed to create and implement new applications in fire service management, technology and coordination, with an emphasis on incident command and multi-agency coordination. FIRESCOPE identified several recurring problems involving multi-agency responses, such as: Nonstandard terminology among responding agencies. Lack of capability to expand and contract as required by the situation. Nonstandard and nonintegrated communications. Lack of consolidated action plans. Lack of designated facilities. Efforts to address these difficulties resulted in the development of the original ICS model for effective incident management of wildland fires. The system has been expanded to address any type of incident (wildland fire, Search & rescue, structural fire, special events, storms, etc.). It consists of procedures for controlling personnel, facilities, equipment and communications.

RELATED ITEMS: The Incident Command System

Forest shrouded in smoke. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1971

U.S. Forest Service

U.S. Forest Service modified its suppression policy and begins initiating natural fire experiments.

Smoke billowing up from brush and trees. Courtesy of National Park Service.

July, 1972

Moccasin Mesa Fire

Mesa Verde National Park—A lightning caused fire, burned a total of 2,680 acres in Mesa Verde National Park and on Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Lands. The Park failed to recognize the potential for cultural resource damage from fire suppression activities. Fire suppression activities (primarily dozers) resulted in the destruction of numerous archeological sites. A post-fire review and investigation resulted in the establishment of a national policy to include cultural resource oversight in the management of wildland fires on all federal lands.

Boise Interagency Fire Center entrance sign. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1973

Office of Aircraft Services

Department of the Interior establishes the Office of Aircraft Services with its headquarters at BIFC.

Firefighter standing by Type 6 engine watching flames. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1974

Wildland Fire Management Program Moves

National Park Service moves its Wildland Fire Management Program to the Boise Interagency Fire Center.

Crew of firefighters with tools. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1975

Federal Agencies Screen Candidates

Federal agencies begin using a 5-minute step test and an alternative 1.5-mile run to screen candidates for wildland firefighting.

Modern female firefighter carrying a Pulaski. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1976

First Woman Hotshot

Deanne Shulman Joined the Los Prietos Hotshots as the first woman hotshot in Region 5.

Bureau of Indian Affairs logo. Courtesy of Bureau of Indian Affairs.

1976

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Bureau of Indian Affairs joins other agencies at Boise Interagency Fire Center.

Man using drip torch to light fire in pine forest. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1976

Walsh Ditch Fire

Refuge managers at Seney National Wildlife Refuge on the Upper Peninsula in Michigan were unable to contain Walsh Ditch Fire, a lightning-caused fire burning in designated wilderness area, which acted as a wake-up call that the Fish and Wildlife Service needed to professionalize its fire program and led to establishment a formal fire management program in 1978.

RELATED ITEMS: National Wildlife Refuge System Fire History

National Wildfire Coordinating Group logo. Courtesy of National Wildfire Coordinating Group.

1976

National Wildfire Coordinating Group

National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Chartered by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to facilitate the development of common practices, standards, and training among the wildfire community.

RELATED ITEMS: National Wildfire Coordinating Group

View of Fire Shelter case. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1977

Mandatory Fire Shelters

US Forest Service makes it mandatory that all Forest Service firefighters carry a fire shelter.

Fire burning in pine trees. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

JUNE 16, 1977

La Mesa Fire

Bandelier National Monument Burned over 15,000 acres of lands administered by three federal agencies. The major portion of the burn was within Bandelier, burning over 10,000 acres and affecting numerous cultural sites containing artifacts dating back to the early 1100-1200's. This is the first known wildland fire event in which archeologists were used as cultural resource locators and many sites were saved as a result of this action.

Pine trees silhouetted in smoky fire. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1978

National Forest Manual

USDA Forest Service released the National Forest Manual that accepted fire management and the use of fire, and abandoned the 10 A.M. Policy.

Logo of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

1978

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service establishes a formal Fire Management Program.

Logo of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

1979

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Joins Other Federal Agencies

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joins other federal agencies at Boise Interagency Fire Center.

Modern woman smokejumper. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1981

First Woman Smokejumper

Deanne Shulman became the first woman smokejumper in the nation when she successfully completed the smokejumper training program at the McCall Smokejumper Base in Idaho.

RELATED ITEMS: Women Smokejumpers: Fighting Fires, Stereotypes

Man pointing to chart at fire briefing. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1985

National Interagency Incident Management System

National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS) adopted by federal land management agencies.

Modern view of Missoula Technology and Design Center. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

October, 1987

Technology and Development Program

U.S. Forest Service Equipment Development and Testing program was changed to the Technology and Development (T&D) Program. The T&D centers are located in San Dimas, CA and Missoula, MT.

Sun glowing above firefighters working in smoky forest. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

June, 1989

Bush Administration

Bush administration directed the Department of Interior to fight all fires, regardless of origin or prescription, until each park or management area had revised its fire management plan to reflect the new, tightened policy.

Paul Gleason. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1991

Paul Gleason

Paul Gleason publishes paper on LCES (Lookout(s), Communication(s), Escape routes and Safety zone(s)) to improve firefighter safety after his experiences on the Dude Fire.

RELATED ITEMS: LCES and Other Thoughts

National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1993

Boise Interagency Fire Center Name Change

Boise Interagency Fire Center name changed to National Interagency Fire Center to better reflect its national mission and coordination between member agencies.

Modern firefighters with tools and protective clothing. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1993

New NFPA Standard

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) approved newly Developed standards on protective clothing and equipment for wildland firefighting. This new NFPA standard is the first to specifically address the wildland firefighter.

Numerous wisps of smoke on mountainside. Courtesy of National Park Service.

1994

Howing FireGlacier National Park

Experienced problems getting resources to manage the fire as a "prescribed natural fire." Managers discussed the need for crews to manage these type fires similar to fire fighting crews. This led the National Park Service to create four Fire Use Modules and four Fire Use Management Teams.

Burn trees silhouetted against colored sky. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

JULY 6, 1994

South Canyon Fire

near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, kills 14 firefighters—An interagency team was formed to investigate the fatalities and contributing factors. The subsequent 1995 Federal Wildland Fire Policy and Program Review, signed by both Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior, directed Federal wildland fire agencies to establish fire management qualifications standards to improve firefighter safety and increase professionalism in fire management programs.

RELATED ITEMS: South Canyon Fire Investigation

Fire shelters being tested in burning forest. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

1995–1996

Field Testing

Field testing of fire shelters to determine the actual fire environment to be expected in a fire entrapment.f fire shelters to determine the actual fire environment to be expected in a fire entrapment.

1996

Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy and Program Review

The Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy and Program Review was chartered by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to ensure that Federal policies are uniform and programs are cooperative and cohesive. The report addresses five major topic areas, presents nine guiding principles that are fundamental to wildland fire management, and recommends a set of thirteen Federal wildland fire policies. While unique agency missions may result in minor operational differences, having, for the first time, one set of "umbrella" Federal fire policies will enhance effective and efficient operations across administrative boundaries and improve our capability to meet the challenges posed by current wildland fire conditions.

RELATED ITEMS: Federal Wildland Fire Policy

Fire burning on ground and up Ponderosa Pine. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

MAY 23, 1996

Action Plan Report Released

Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy and Program Review Implementation Action Plan Report released.

RELATED ITEMS: Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy and Program Review Implementation Action Plan Report

Fire crew building fireline on steep mountainside. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

1999

Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualification System Revised

The Incident Operations Standards Working Team of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) revised the National Interagency Incident Management System's Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualification System (PMS 310-1).

Firefighters with water hose suppressing a wildland fire. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

2000

Fire Stats

There were 28,462 firefighters on duty; 667 crews; 1,294 engines; 226 helicopters; 42 air tankers; 84 fires greater than 100 acres and 1,642,579 acres on fire in 16 states.

Firefighters walking on road through smoke. Courtesy of National Park Service.

July, 2001

Thirty Mile Accident Prevention Plan

Following review of the fire, the Thirty Mile Accident Prevention Plan was developed and contained 38 action items, including 28 that are Interagency in nature to enhance fire fighter safety and training.

RELATED ITEMS: Thirty Mile Fire Information

National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

2002

Full-time Representative Established

A full-time representative of the National Association of State Foresters was established at NIFC.

Night view of burning trees and power tower. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

MAY 18, 2002

Cerro Grande Report

Cerro Grande Prescribed Fire Investigation report released and found that federal personnel failed to properly plan and implement the Upper Frijoles Prescribed Fire, which became known as the Cerro Grande Prescribed Fire. Throughout the planning and implementation, critical mistakes were made. Findings and recommendations cover planning, implementation, and qualifications.

Federal Emergency Management Administration logo. Courtesy of Federal Emergency Management Administration.

2003

FEMA Joins NIFCA

A permanent representative of the Federal Emergency Management Administration joined the NIFC team.

2004 version of Fire Shelter setup. Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

2003

New Generation Fire Shelters

New generation fire shelters become available for fire fighter use.

RELATED ITEMS: U.S. Forest Service: Fire Shelter Information

Burned trees silhouetted against colored sky. Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.

JANUARY 12, 2004

Cramer Fire investigation Report

Cramer Fire investigation report and accident prevention action is released. The investigation report contains 44 findings, nine causal factors and three contributing factors; the accident prevention action plan, which has agency-wide ramifications, contains five steps to implement. The key actions that, when implemented, would best prevent similar mishaps in the future, include strengthening command and control performance of agency administrators and fire managers and periodically re-certifying fire management leadership positions nationally.

RELATED ITEMS: U.S. Forest Service: Cramer Fire Investigation Information

OCTOBER 1, 2004

Interagency Fire Program Management Qualifications Standard and Guide

Implementation of the Interagency Fire Program Management Qualifications Standard and Guide (IFPM Standard) begins.

  • 14 key fire management positions (Appendix B) and established minimum qualification standards with consideration for the complexity of the fire program where the position is located.
  • Office of Personnel Management (OPM) approved Supplemental Qualification Standard for GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist, the selected series for professional fire management positions.
  • Competency descriptors for key fire management positions.
  • A rating guide for evaluating fire program complexity.
  • Minimum grade levels predetermined by application of the complexity guide and the appropriate position classification standard.
  • Standard Key Performance Elements based on the competencies for each position.
  • A list of required and recommended training for designated agency managers.
  • A system to determine when a "specialist" or center manager position is professional or technical based on pre-determined competencies and job complexity.
  • Agreement that all IFPM fire positions classifiable at GS-11 and above are professional positions based on the required competencies and job complexity.