New Superintendents Learn about Fire and Aviation Management

New superintendents gathered outside the headquarters building of the National Interagency Fire Center.
New superintendents gathered at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho as part of their training.

NPS / Tina Boehle

News Release Date: October 8, 2015

Contact: Tina Boehle, (208) 387-5875

For the third consecutive year, the NPS Fire Management Program Center at the National Interagency Fire Center hosted the NPS New Superintendents Academy the first week of August 2015. Though the theme was “Leading People,” the superintendents spent an entire day focused on risk management and enhancing their knowledge and understanding of the operational branches within the Division of Fire and Aviation - Aviation, Structural Fire, and Wildland Fire.

Staff with the Fire Communication and Education Program led a tour of the National Interagency Fire Center, where the superintendents learned about the collaboration and efficiencies to be gained by working closely with interagency partners regarding wildland fire management. Favorite stops were the BLM Smokejumper Loft, and the scale at the main warehouse, which is more frequently used to weigh freight being sent out to support wildland firefighters, rather than superintendents.

Following the tour, the division chief and staff from each operational branch had an opportunity to spend time with the superintendents. Division Chief Bill Kaage focused his time on the three operational branch programs and spoke about risk management and the superintendent's role in managing risks for the bureau, the park, themselves, their employees, and their neighbors. There are both time and space considerations, such as deferring risk to the next superintendent through a decision made today. He also highlighted that the job of the Division of Fire and Aviation at the National Interagency Fire Center is to provide the policy and guidance as well as budget to ensure their success with this management. Part of this role includes reviewing and auditing for program success via A123 and regional reviews.

Dan Buckley, Branch Chief for Wildland Fire, presented about managing incidents using the incident command system (ICS), from a superintendent's perspective. Topics included what is and when to use ICS, how to “get” ICS training, role of an incident management team (IMT) and when to call one in, the role of park superintendent in hosting an IMT, after action reviews (AARs), and media tips.

Jon Rollens and Meg Gallagher with NPS Branch of Aviation focused on an overview of the aviation organization within the Service. In addition, they discussed what makes a park an aviation park, reviewed the basics of how aviation is used to support NPS missions, and hot topics such as unmanned aircraft, SES flights, all hazard events, and superintendent’s aviation responsibilities. Lastly, they gave some advice on where superintendents can find the answers to their questions.

Kathy Komatz with NPS Branch of Structural Fire introduced the revamped InsideNPS Structural Fire webpage to the superintendents. Inspired by information from last year's meeting, the branch reorganized their internal website and grouped information and resources based on the needs of their customer, which includes park managers. After guiding the group through the site, Kathy distributed memos and Prevention 52 safety messages to facilitate conversations with staff back in their home parks.

Staff members from the Division of Fire and Aviation were also able to meet and visit with the superintendents during a luncheon hosted by the office. The value added of having the New Superintendent Academy meet at the National Interagency Fire Center is best captured by Bill Kaage, “by meeting at NIFC, there's cross pollination between superintendents and division staff which establishes and strengthens relationships, and down the road they know we're here to help should the need arise.”

Last updated: December 1, 2015