Other News Releases
For Immediate Release: August 28, 2020
Contact: Stanton Florea
USDA Forest Service
Military Personnel Mobilized to Provide Wildfire Support
Boise, Idaho – The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho, requested and the
Department of Defense (DoD) approved, a mobilization of approximately 200 active duty U.S. Army
soldiers to assist with wildfire suppression efforts. The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group
(NMAC) at NIFC requested the DoD to provide the personnel, along with command and support staff.
After receiving training, the soldiers will serve as firefighters, assisting with wildfire suppression efforts.
The soldiers will be trained over the next week at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) near Tacoma,
Washington and will be available as hand crews in early September. This is the first active duty
mobilization for wildfire support since 2018.
"The NMAC strives to ensure we provide interagency firefighting resources to Incident Commanders to
meet their needs for success in incident management. On behalf of our cooperating agencies, we are
committed to protecting lives, property, and valuable natural and cultural resources," said Josh
Simmons, Chair of the NMAC. "With the national activity at a Preparedness Level 5, we are all working
diligently to ensure we provide the best support possible, which includes further coordination with our
cooperators such as the U.S. Military. We are very appreciative of and would like to thank the U.S.
Military for their continued partnership and coordination by providing soldiers and aircraft to help us all
meet our mission nationally."
Currently, 86 large wildfires are burning across the western U.S. and more than 3.8 million acres have
burned this year. Above normal fire activity is occurring in northern California, Arizona, Colorado and
several other states.
The training at JBLM will consist of both a classroom portion and field training in the basics of wildland
fire suppression and firefighter safety. The soldiers will be outfitted with wildland fire Personal
Protective Equipment (PPE) and other gear to serve as wildland firefighters. They will be trained by
wildland fire agency personnel at JBLM beginning Sunday, August 30. The training is expected to
conclude by Wednesday, September 2, with the soldiers beginning work on a wildfire thereafter. While
working on wildfires, the soldiers will be accompanied by experienced wildland fire strike team leaders
and crew bosses from wildland fire management agencies.
The DoD has been a key wildland firefighting partner for decades, providing aircraft and personnel to serve as wildland firefighters. Since 1987, active duty military personnel have been mobilized to serve as wildland firefighters a total of 38 times. In addition to the U.S. Army activation, four military C-130s equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) are currently serving as airtankers, providing wildfire support in California.
For more information on military activations for civilian wildfire support, visit: www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_military.html
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), located in Boise, Idaho, is the nation's support center for wildland firefighting. Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC including, the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Weather Service, U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Association of State Foresters.