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
Episode 16 - Describing the BLM Honor Guard mission and services with Matthew Norden
Matthew Norden, BLM Honor Guard Coordinator, explains how he got involved with the BLM Honor Guard, what they do, who they serve, and why it is an important program for all firefighters. Matt offers some history, discusses the services the Honor Guard provides, and explains how BLM employees can become members along with the training and commitment involved. The BLM Honor Guard is a team of current fire personnel who have chosen to honor and pay tribute to the lives of those who make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Team members participate in fire service memorials, ceremonial presentations, and special events such as the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend being held this year on May 6-7, 2023.
Episode 15 - Explaining the BLM Operational Medical Support Program with Dr. Andrew Southard
BLM National Medical Director Dr. Andrew Southard, or Dr. Drew, talks about the Operational Medical Support Program (OMSP) which provides emergency medical services that focus on initial stabilization and extraction of injured employees in the wildland environment. Dr. Drew discusses the similarities and differences between OMSP and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), when OMSP was developed, and why it is an important program for our wildland firefighters. He reveals his fire background leading to BLM National Medical Director and how BLM employees can get involved with the program.
Episode 14 - An Introduction to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group with Katie Wood
Katie Wood, Program Manager for the National Wildfire Coordinating Group or NWCG, discusses what NWCG does and how this group operates. Katie begins the session by taking about her career, from being hired right out of high school as firefighter on an engine crew to working her way to up to the National Interagency Fire Center as the NWCG Program Manager. Katie then explains how NWCG got started and how it provides national leadership to enable interoperable wildland fire operations among federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial partners. From establishing national interagency wildland fire operational standards, to NWCG committees’ operations, to developing incident training, Katie explains the role of NWCG at the national level and how NWCG uses a consensus-based decision process to develop common operating standards for the wildland fire community. As wildland fire continues to expand and become more complex, NWCG is at the tip of the spear working on an integrated incident performance and training modernization training project; an effort focused on modernizing the majority of NWCG's incident positions to include their training, incident position descriptions, development of new position standards, and next-generation position task books along with transitioning to complex incident management to better facilitate participation and increase capacity for the nation’s wildland fire response.
Episode 13 - 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.
Episode 12 - 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 11 - 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 10 - 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 9 - 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 8 - 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 7 - 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.