Wildland Fire: Plans and Policy

Fire Management Planning

Fire management plans are required for all parks with burnable vegetation. The fire management plan is a document that lays out how fire management strategies and tactics will protect values-at-risk (such as structures, viewsheds, archeological sites, etc.) and provide the necessary tools to meet resource and park management goals and objectives. The plan is based on professional fire management expertise, specific knowledge of park resources, visitor use patterns, local weather patterns, fire history, science, and ecology.

Fire management plans also summarize elements of law, policy, and requirements from other park planning efforts. The park’s fire management plan is guided by the park’s existing planning documents, such as the general management plan and resource stewardship strategy.

The NPS fire management plan framework can be found on the National Wildfire Coordinating Group Interagency Fire Planning Committee Resources page.

The purpose of the NPS Wildland Fire Strategic Plan is to position NPS wildland fire management for the future by identifying assumptions, reaffirming our values, and establishing our priorities to meet the mission and the Secretarial goals for active management.

The goals, objectives, and strategies identified in this plan define specific priority areas to focus efforts to achieve the mission. Accomplishing the first goal, “align wildland fire management resources with mission requirements” is critical to our success with goals 2 and 3: “protect communities and assets” and “conserve natural resources.”

These wildland fire goals directly effect how the NPS plans, responds to, and manages wildland fire. In addition, they establish the framework for effectively planning an efficient organization consisting of a well-trained and well-positioned workforce, and how to make the best use of appropriated funds.

Success resides with all NPS employees and our partners. As conditions inevitably change, and as progress is made to meet our goals, the NPS Fire Management Leadership Board will continually monitor, review, and update this plan as often as necessary to ensure that it remains a trusted reference point.


Policy development is a vital part of wildland fire management. Policy describes overall intent and purpose for the Wildland Fire Management Program. Having clear direction leads to a safer work environment for firefighters and promotes integration of fire management activities with other land management objectives. Policy is developed both at the interagency level, to provide consistency across agency boundaries; and within the NPS, to provide integration with other NPS program areas.

A managed wilderness fire is monitored. Flame and smoke intensity is minimal in this forest.
Director's Order #18

This director's order states the basic principles and strategic guidelines governing the management of wildland fire by the NPS.

A crown fire seen from the air moves through the forest during a large wildfire.
Reference Manual #18

Contains the most detailed and comprehensive instructions for implementing service-wide wildland fire management programs for the NPS.

Grasses and shrubs grow in a forest singed by fire.
NPS Wildland Fire Program Review Guide

This guide provides direction and tools for conducting wildland fire management program reviews within the NPS.

Interagency Policy Resources

Last updated: September 7, 2023