BLM Fire Podcasts

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a leader in the nation’s wildland fire management. BLM Fire carries out a broad range of actions to protect the public, natural landscapes, wildlife habitat, recreational areas, and other values and resources.  

The national BLM Fire program focuses on public safety as its top priority, and consists of fire suppression, preparedness, predictive services, vegetative fuels management, prescribed fire, community assistance and protection, and fire prevention through education. To meet its wildland fire-related challenges, the BLM employs highly trained professional firefighters and managers who are committed to managing wildfire on our public lands.  

The BLM Fire program is headquartered at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho, where it works with seven other federal agencies to manage wildland fire, primarily in the western United States.  

Wildfire Matters takes you behind the scenes to talk with the people who strive to manage the landscape, protect our precious natural resources, and keep our communities safe as we continue to learn how to live with wildfire.  #WeAreBLMFire 

Podcast 1 - Today's wildland fire management issues: a discussion with Grant Beebe

Grant Beebe, Bureau of Land Management Assistant Director, Fire and Aviation, talks to us about being a firefighter and working his way up to build a career in wildland fire management. He discusses how agencies work together nationally and internationally to share resources, what people can do to help the wildfire situation, and the issues we face today in hiring firefighters and managing wildfires as a nation.

Podcast 2 - Wildland fire planning and fuels management: a discussion with Jolie Pollet

Jolie Pollet, Bureau of Land Management Division Chief, Fire Planning and Fuels Management, talks to us about her career in wildland fire management and the importance of fuels, or vegetation, management to reduce wildfire risk. She explains what fire planning is, discusses fuels management from fire breaks to community assistance, why it is so important, what people can do to reduce their own risk, and the goals and challenges we face today in fuels management to "defend and grow the core."

Episode 3 - Explaining the National Interagency Fire Center: a talk with Jessica Gardetto

Jessica Gardetto, Chief, Bureau of Land Management Fire Public Affairs, explains what NIFC is, from interagency support to why and how agencies work together to manage wildfires. We discuss what external affairs does, how we communicate our mission, and some of the challenges and changes we are seeing in our workforce.

Episode 4 - Wildfire awareness and preparation: a chat with Jon Skinner

Nationally, humans cause 87% of all wildfires that average over 3.4 million acres burned annually. Jon Skinner, national lead for the BLM Fire Mitigation and Education Program, explains how people can prevent human-caused wildfires, the difference between fire prevention and fire mitigation, and what “hardening your home” means. He also describes the BLM Wildland Fire Community Assistance Program from partnerships to wildfire preparation, and the history behind Wildfire Awareness Month in May. To learn more about fire prevention and mitigation, check out the informative Wildfire Prevention videos.

Episode 5 - Wildland fire management and the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group with Ken Schmid

Ken Schmid, Branch Chief of Preparedness and Suppression Support for BLM Fire talks about how he started working in wildland fire management, his position at the National Interagency Fire Center, and his role in the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, NMAC. From overseeing national radio operations, rural fire readiness, and the military veterans fire crew program, Ken also explains his duties as the NMAC Chair and how NMAC functions - setting national preparedness levels, working with geographic areas and international partners, planning for military support, and how national wildland fire management resources are prioritized.

Episode 6 - Working at the National Interagency Coordination Center: a discussion with Sean Peterson

Sean Peterson, Assistant Center Manager of the National Interagency Coordination Center, or NICC, talks about his career in wildland fire management from firefighter to his current position at the National Interagency Fire Center. We discuss day to day NICC operations – explaining the dispatch system and the role of the air space coordination unit, predicative services, and the intelligence section. Sean talks about working with the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, or NMAC, on setting national wildfire resources priorities, preparedness levels, and the importance of working with interagency, state, international, and military partners to support not only wildfires nationally but also assisting FEMA during all-hazard/all-risk incidents.

Episode 7 - Working at the National Interagency Coordination Center: a discussion with Sean Peterson

Sean Peterson, Assistant Center Manager of the National Interagency Coordination Center, or NICC, talks about his career in wildland fire management from firefighter to his current position at the National Interagency Fire Center. We discuss day to day NICC operations – explaining the dispatch system and the role of the air space coordination unit, predicative services, and the intelligence section. Sean talks about working with the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, or NMAC, on setting national wildfire resources priorities, preparedness levels, and the importance of working with interagency, state, international, and military partners to support not only wildfires nationally but also assisting FEMA during all-hazard/all-risk incidents.

Episode 8 - Predicting wildfire potential with meteorologists Nick Nauslar and Jim Wallmann

National Interagency Coordination Center meteorologists Nick Nauslar and Jim Wallmann explain the difference between prediction and potential for weather forecasting. We discuss day-to-day operations in predicative services at the National Interagency Fire Center, how the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook is produced, and the significance of communicating fire weather to wildland fire managers, media, and the public. We also hear about anomalies such as fire-generated tornadic vortices increasing in frequency and working on wildfires as an incident meteorologist (IMET). 

Episode 9 - Wildland firefighter to fuel management specialist: a conversation with Courtney Wyatt

Boise District BLM Fuels Specialist Courtney Wyatt talks about her experience working in wildland fire suppression and transitioning to fuels management. We discuss wildland fire management at the ground level from being on an engine, helitack, and hotshot crew to planning and implementing vegetation treatments like jackpot burning and fuel break design. We also explore how fuels management can help our wildland firefighters and protect the public.

Episode 10 - When your daily commute involves a parachute: on the fly with smokejumper Phil Lind

Great Basin Smokejumper Base Manager Phil Lind talks about his career in wildland fire management. Starting from the agrarian communities of Wisconsin moving to the vast open spaces of Montana, Phil explains how he got into firefighting and his transition to become a smokejumper and BLM Great Basin Smokejumper Base Manager. We chat about what it takes to hone the specialized skills of a smokejumper, and how it differs from other wildland firefighting positions in preparation, suppression, and jumping out of a “perfectly good airplane." In closing, Phil divulges what he feels is the hardest part of the job.

Episode 11 - Critical Incident Stress Management: a mental health and wellness discussion with Patty O'Brien

BLM Fire National Critical Incident Stress Program Manager Dr. Patty O’Brien explains critical incident stress management, how firefighters can cope with traumatic events and depression, and how we break through the stigma of talking about mental health. Prior to becoming a doctor, Dr. Patty worked for several years as a Forest Service hotshot. At that time, she realized the need for fire personnel support services and became interested in firefighter mental health. We talk about the many resources available from peers, friends, family members, and employee assistance to dialing the new crisis hotline “988” on your phone - connecting the right tools to the individual to stay physically and mentally fit.

Episode 12 - Helicopters, airplanes, and unmanned aircraft systems: talking wildland fire aviation management with Mike Reid

BLM Fire Deputy Division Chief of Aviation Mike Reid talks about the various types of aviation assets working in wildland fire management. Beginning his firefighting career on ground crews to taking flight in helicopters working on helitack, Mike explains how he became a firefighter, the different positions available in aviation and how aircraft is used to support the suppression efforts of the boots on the ground. He reminds us aircraft are not just a tail numbers, there are people on board and that private citizens flying unauthorized drones near wildfires put those people and our fireline personnel at risk. #KnowBeforeYouFly 

Episode 13 - Military law enforcement to wildland fire investigator: a conversation with Court Gossard

BLM Wildland Fire Investigator and Trespass Coordinator Court Gossard talks about his transition from the military to working in wildland fire. We discuss the importance of fire investigation - from examination and documentation to types of causes and what fire trespass involves…along with a little reminiscing. Court also provides advise to veterans looking for work in wildland fire management.

Episode 14 - Learning about the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center: a discussion with Kelly Woods

Kelly Woods, Director of the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC), talks about her interagency career in wildland fire beginning as a GS-1 wildland firefighter on a type 2 hand crew, working various suppression and support jobs with different agencies, to her current position as director of the Wildland Fire LLC.

We discuss the development of the center, the mission to facilitate learning from our experiences - good and bad, and the importance of emotional learning from past events through staff rides. We can become more professional, efficient, and safer at what we do through inquiry, opportunity, and dialogue. Kelly also takes a moment to reflect on being a mother while navigating her wildland fire management career.

Listen to the Wildland Fire LLC podcast and follow on social media: Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wildfirelessonslearned and Twitter @WildlandFireLLC.