National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC)
- Mission is to serve as a focal point for coordinating the national mobilization of resources for wildland fire and other incidents throughout the United States.
- NICC has four major elements: equipment and supply dispatching; overhead and crew dispatching; aircraft dispatching; and intelligence and predictive services.
- NICC executes its mission using the closest forces and total mobility concepts.
- NICC utilizes a three-tiered dispatching system: local, Geographic Area (11 Geographic Areas total), and national.
- NICC is the sole dispatch center for heavy airtankers, lead planes, smokejumpers, hotshot crews, Type 1 Incident Management Teams, area command teams, medium and heavy helicopters, infrared aircraft, military resources, telecom equipment for fires, Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS), and large transport aircraft.
- NICC supports all-risk incidents.
- NICC also provides intelligence and predictive services products designed for the use of the internal wildland fire community for wildland fire and incident management decision making.
- Mission is to clean, refurbish, and repair fire equipment returned from incidents in the Great Basin.
- 75 to 80 percent of equipment sent out is returned and credited back to the incident.
- Incidents must return ordered supplies within 60 days after a fire is officially contained to avoid the supplies being charged to the fire.
- The Returns Warehouse ensures various kit configurations are maintained to standard.
- The Returns Warehouse has about 70 people working during the normal fire season.
Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS)
- RAWS are self-contained, portable, battery/solar powered weather stations that provide timely local weather data used in fire management. Approximately 2,300 RAWS that feed data into NIFC's system are located throughout the country.
- RAWS are maintained once a year.
- A RAWS unit costs approximately $16,000 to build.
- RAWS data is transmitted hourly to the Boise National Weather Service via the GOES satellite.
- There are also 42 portable RAWS units (fire RAWS) that can be deployed to an incident to augment on-site forecasts. These units are both satellite and voice activated.
- Weather data is critical to predicting fire behavior, which is critical to effective fire management of all kinds (suppression, prescribed burning, wildland fire use, etc.)
The wildland fire community's national radio and repeater cache contains three elements: radios and telecom, avionics, and infrared.
Radios and Telecom
- The NIFC Radio Cache is the largest in the world consisting of 8,000 handheld radios, 200 repeaters, and 15 portable satellite systems.
- The Radio Cache contains about 10,000 pieces of equipment worth $26 million.
- This equipment can support about 32,000 firefighters or 53 major disasters at one time.
- Every year, the Radio Cache sends out kits to fires across the country.
- The returned radio kits are cleaned, reprogrammed, tested, and repaired as needed. Systems can be processed and sent back out within four to six hours of being returned. Typically, there is approximately a three percent breakage rate on returned radio equipment.
- The Radio Cache has supported a large variety of incidents including the Columbia shuttle disaster, Oklahoma City bombing, Winter Olympics, Exxon Valdez oil disaster, drug wars, hurricanes, etc.
- Mission is to provide safe and effective aircraft communication systems in firefighting aircraft.
- Technicians annually inspect avionics in contracted large airtankers and heavy helicopters for contract compliance.
- Technicians also maintain avionics on three US Forest Service infrared aircraft.
- Mission is to support fires with airborne heat detection and mapping technology.
- Infrared scanners can detect a hotspot on the ground that is six inches across from 14,000 feet above ground. A heat source needs to be about 600 degrees to be detected. Typical scanning flight is 10,000 AGL.
- Infrared scanning is done at night due to favorable temperature contrasts.
Scanners can cover almost 1 million acres in one hour of flight time.
- Two US Forest Service aircraft are used for infrared flights (King Air and Cessna Citation jet). Infrared flights cost between $1,000 and $5,000.
- The Great Basin Cache is one of 11 fire caches across the country (2 BLM and 9 US Forest Service). This specific cache is one of the largest at 80,000 square feet.
- The Great Basin Cache contains an inventory worth about $20 million.
- This cache has enough capability to equip 8,000 to 10,000 firefighters for field work and can turn over three times during a fire season.
- There are 48 different configurations of kits in the cache system.
- Due to its size, it functions as both a Geographic Area cache and a national cache.
- The Great Basin Cache is the national storage center for training materials and operation manuals for fire suppression.
- It is common for the cache to operate 24 hours a day during intense periods or fire suppression.
Boise BLM Smokejumpers
- Smokejumpers are firefighters who are transported to fires by airplane and parachute. Smokejumpers are important because they can get to remote fires safely and quickly, helping keep high-risk fires small.
- The US has a total of about 400 smokejumpers.
- Smokejumping in the US dates back to 1939. The first jump occurred in 1940 on the Nez Perce National Forest.
- Boise is one of two BLM jump bases (Fairbanks, Alaska). The US Forest Service has seven jump bases (Winthrop, Redmond, Redding, McCall, Grangeville, Missoula, and West Yellowstone).
- The Boise jump base employs about 80 to 85 smokejumpers every season.
- A load of smokejumpers takes about eight minutes to get suited up and into the air after being dispatched.
- Smokejumpers require special training and physical fitness. Once they have completed their fire mission, smokejumpers usually have to pack out their gear, which can weigh 110 pounds or more.
Wildland Firefighters' Monument
- This monument honors all past, present, and future firefighters.
- The monument was built in the late 1990s and dedicated in May of 2000.
- It was built with donated funds and volunteer labor.
- The design of the monument walkway is shaped like a ribbon.
- The area is covered with vegetation native to the Great Basin.
- The statues of firefighters were designed by a National Park Service employee which are sculpted at one and a half times life size and cast in bronze.
- The monument is visited throughout the year by firefighters, colleagues, and family members of those involved with wildland fire, and by those whose lives were touched by the tragic losses of firefighters.