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 

Episode 26: The National Fire Equipment Program: talking shop with John Fitchner and Justin Lammers

The award-winning National Fire Equipment Program (NFEP) located at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) incorporates firefighter innovation with industry expertise to provide the Department of the Interior with economical, safe, and efficient fire equipment. The program is responsible for around 1,200 fire vehicles in the BLM, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs fleets. John Fitchner, NFEP manager, and Justin Lammers, production assistant equipment specialist, talk about their wildland fire careers on the road to the NFEP and explain how the program operates. The NFEP continually seeks improvement in all aspects of support, evaluation, and development of fire equipment through proactive training and communication. John and Justin also discuss their involvement with training events and reviews, new technology, and improved safety features; some of which led the program to be awarded the 2018 Pulaski Award for continued excellence in equipment innovation and development. Piper Brandt, BLM Fire Public Affairs Specialist, also debuts as the new Wildfire Matters podcast co-host. Aired April 24, 2024.

Episode 25: Looking at landscape ecology as it relates to wildland fire and fuels management: a conversation with Michele Crist

Michele Crist, landscape ecologist for the Bureau of Land Management fire planning and fuels management program, studies landscape changes in the environment including research on non-forested burned areas, invasive species, and sagebrush conservation design. Her work is focused on developing landscape-scale modeling frameworks and restoration strategies for sagebrush lands, forests, and wildlife habitats. Michele discusses her education, career, and research developing science-based land management goals and objectives to help with land management policy and planning processes and assesses the impacts of existing or proposed land management on ecological resources and wildlife habitats. Aired March 27, 2024.

Read about Michele's research, Rethinking the focus on forest fires in wildland fire management: Landscape patterns and trends of non-forest and forest burned area, published February 2023.

Episode 24: Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation and the National Seed Warehouse System: a discussion with Jake Ferguson and Brandon Brown

Ever wonder what happens to a burned area after a wildfire? How about the seeds used for land restoration? Jake Ferguson, the BLM National Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ESR) program lead, talks about the immediate emergency actions taken to stabilize the land, the burned area rehabilitation (BAR) process and the work that goes into post-fire recovery which may include seeding when deemed necessary after a damaging wildfire. Brandon Brown, BLM National Seed Coordinator explains the National Seed Warehouse System (NSWS) developed to streamline seed buying for various types of land management projects, including ESR, and ensure that high-quality seed - of which 90% purchased is native seed - is readily available for the field when needed. We discuss the importance of both programs and how they are critical to support the BLM mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Aired February 28, 2024.

Episode 23: Learn about Joint Fire Science Program and Coleen Haskell and Karen Dante-Wood

Coleen Haskell, Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) Program Manager, and Karen Dante-Wood, JFSP Technology Transfer Specialist, introduce us to the program created by Congress in 1998 to provide funding and science delivery for studies associated with managing wildland fire, fuel, and fire-impacted ecosystems. We discuss the history, background, and the collaborative efforts among fire researchers, managers, academic professionals, and others to provide accurate, current, and scientifically based information for our wildland fire community. We talk about the studies provided by the Fire Science Exchange Network to improve firefighter safety and health along with understanding the science behind wildland fire to justify management decisions and apply scientifically proven solutions to wildfire management issues. Aired on January 31, 2024.

Learn more about JFSP and to stay informed about new research, sign up for Friday Flash eNews at

Episode 22: Not your ordinary job: a Wildfire Matters look back at different careers in fire with Carrie and Jennifer 

BLM Fire employs over 3,600 wildland firefighters and support personnel nationwide. Since premiering in 2022, the Wildfire Matters podcast has focused on BLM Fire employees in the various positions supporting wildland fire management. If you are interested in learning how some BLM Fire employees found their professions and why they stayed, Carrie Bilbao and Jennifer Myslivy invite you to listen to this recap of previous episodes as they discuss and highlight the people, positions, and career paths in wildland fire management, including their own. This episode was recorded on October 3, 2023, and aired October 11, 2023.

Episode 21: Wildland Firefighting positions: Q&A with a panel of subject matter experts

There are quite a few questions swirling about the new Wildland Firefighting positions in the Wildland Fire Management 0456 series recently reclassified by Office of Personnel Management (OPM). While there are a lot of unknowns yet to be worked out, Jeff Arnberger and LJ Brown, BLM Fire Operations, Cindy Pogue, BLM Fire Human Resource Officer, and Rob Berger, BLM Fire Senior Advisor discuss the new wildland firefighting positions and answer some questions submitted by BLM employees about this new 0456 series - what it means to current and new wildland firefighters. The panel of wildland fire management and human resource professionals provide some background and talk about the advantages of having Wildland Firefighting positions for federal wildland fire management programs. As we learn more about the 0456 series, we will post some frequently asked questions on the website: Aired on September 6, 2023.

Episode 20: Fire suppression preparedness and incident management: a discussion with Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw, BLM Fire Branch Chief of Preparedness and Suppression Support, talks about his wildland fire management journey starting on an engine crew in Montana, to hotshot in California, fire management in Arizona, and currently supervising the preparedness and suppression support program for BLM Fire at the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho - the program that provides the logistics and communications that firefighters need to get their job done. We discuss the in-and-outs of being an incident commander (IC) and the importance of mentors in your career. Steve provides insight into some challenges we face for the future, is encouraged by changes we are making, and offers some advice for people getting into the profession of wildland fire management. Aired on August 9, 2023.

Episode 19: Alaska Fire Service: Managing wildfires in the great state of Alaska, part two

In the 49th state, wildfire suppression is a bit different than in the Lower 48. This second episode dedicated to the Alaska Fire Service (AFS) featuring Ray Crowe, A.J. Gavin, and Ryan McPherson, focuses on wildfire suppression operations in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Ray Crowe, Acting Branch Chief of Fire Operations and Alaska Native, talks about his career with AFS and the specialized positions used to fight wildfires in Alaska. Beginning on the BLM AFS's training crew, the North Star fire crew, Ray talks about working his way up to Alaska Interagency Coordination Center Manager, challenging himself personally and professionally. Smokejumper A.J. Gavin discusses the complexities of fire suppression in Alaska from the essential paracargo and boat programs for firefighter support to the use of the customized tool called the “beater” to extinguish tundra fires. Ryan McPherson, Aviation Management Specialist, talks about his career flight path along with the challenges and importance of aviation use in Alaska. Being an “air attack,” requires flexibility to coordinate air space over wildland fires, manage radio communication with multiple aircraft and firefighters, and perform aerial reconnaissance of the overall fire situation in a vast landscape. In all, Alaska Fire Service is a small, complex organization working within a tight knit community. Aired on July 19, 2023.

Learn more about AFS at

Episode 18: Alaska Fire Service: Managing wildfires in the great state of Alaska, part one

The BLM Alaska Fire Service (AFS) was created in 1982 to provide efficient and cost-effective fire suppression services for all U.S. Department of the Interior and Native lands and assists those entities with other fire management activities. In this two-part series, six AFS employees talk about how they got into wildland fire management, what they do now, and what they like most about working for AFS. Kent Slaughter, Deputy State Director of Fire and Aviation, kick starts this episode with a little history of AFS explaining how BLM manages wildfires for the state along with some challenges and successes he has witnessed in his career. Tasha Shields, Tanana Zone Fuels Specialist, explains the Fire Specialist position, unique to AFS, and her move to fuels management. She talks about the importance of logistics and what it is like to work on wildfires in Alaska including how to build a tundra "refrigerator." The episode wraps up with Bjorn Burgeson, Upper Yukon Zone Wildland Fire Operations Technician, providing his perspective as a new employee of AFS, but not new to wildland fire. He offers insight on building a wildfire career, the importance of the people you work with, and taking care of yourself and each other. Aired on July 12, 2023.

Episode 17: Veteran crew to engine crew: talking with second year firefighter Katrina Arguello

Katrina Arguello, BLM engine crew member working in Las Cruces, New Mexico, talks about transitioning from the military to wildland fire. A veteran of the Marine Corps, she spent her first year fighting fires as a member of the BLM Spokane Initial Attack Suppression Module Fire Crew 6201. Now beginning her second year of firefighting, Katrina is finding out what it is like to work on a wildland fire engine. She describes her background, training, and first year of wildfire suppression experience while raising a child and pursuing a horticulture degree. Katrina also offers advice to service members looking for work. Feeling a sense of doing something meaningful, Katrina is looking forward to more career opportunities in wildland fire. Aired on June 1, 2023.

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. Aired on May 3, 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. Aired on March 29, 2023.

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. Aired on March 1, 2023.

Learn more about NWCG here:

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. Aired on February 8, 2023.

Listen to the Wildland Fire LLC podcast and follow on social media: Facebook at and Twitter @WildlandFireLLC. Lean more about Wildfire Lessons Learned Center:

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. Aired on Dec 14, 2022.

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! Aired on November 2, 2022. 

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. Aired on September 28, 2022.

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. Aired on August 31, 2022.

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. Aired on July 28, 2022.

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). Aired on June 29, 2022.

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. Aired on May 25, 2022.

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. Aired on May 11, 2022.

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. Aired on April 27, 2022.

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. Aired on April 13, 2022.

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." Aired on March 30, 2022.

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. Aired on March 16, 2022.