Getting acquainted with the National Interagency Fire Center, a place like no other.
The basics of NIFC
Located on the east side of the Boise Airport, just south of a busy Idaho interstate, a 55-acre campus is home to the National Interagency Fire Center, or NIFC.
But look more closely and you’ll find NIFC is anything but ordinary. NIFC is a place with a mission like no other in the world. The employees at NIFC have one goal: to ensure wildland fire personnel and other emergency services employees across the nation receive the support and information they need to do their job in a safe, effective and efficient manner. Cooperation and collaboration among national and state wildland fire entities is at the core of everything that takes place at NIFC.
NIFC is a place, not a distinct organization. The nine federal and state agencies located there do more than support on-the-ground wildland firefighting efforts. They also develop wildland fire policy and serve as the logistical, intelligence and decision-support center for wildland fire and other all-hazard emergency incidents throughout the nation.
NIFC at a glance.
NIFC was established in 1965 as the Boise Interagency Fire Center (BIFC) when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), USDA Forest Service (USFS) and National Weather Service (NWS) recognized the need to pool resources, cut costs and coordinate national fire suppression and planning efforts. Construction of the first buildings on this campus began in 1968.
In the 1970s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) established offices at BIFC.
In 1993, the name was changed to the National Interagency Fire Center to reflect its nationwide mission.
Federal agencies represented at NIFC are BIA, BLM, U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), USFWS, USFS, National Association of State Foresters (NASF), NWS and NPS. In 2008, a liaison position representing the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) was established.
The BLM is the host agency, but there is not a single director for the fire center. NIFC governance is conducted by each agency’s directors or their representatives.
About 650 people are employed at NIFC. That number can rise to roughly 1,000 during above normal fire activity, when temporary employees are hired to help with the workload.
Although wildland fire support and planning is the primary mission of the member agencies, NIFC also supports other disaster needs and logistics, including earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and terrorist attacks.
NIFC assists natural disaster management in foreign nations, including Australia, Canada, Greece, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and Russia.
NIFC agencies work on a cooperative basis. NIFC’s mission saves tax dollars, defends communities, protects natural resources and most importantly, helps ensure the safety of the public and fire personnel. It’s little wonder that elected officials, news media, foreign dignitaries, members of the United States presidential cabinet, and other agencies praise NIFC as a model of teamwork and cooperation.