Fifteen federal National Incident Support Caches are strategically located across the nation. All supplies in the cache system are managed with the National Fire Equipment System, which is an ordering and tracking system designed to maintain an inventory to accommodate the needs for all areas. As needed, supplies can be moved and shared among caches to meet needs in the field.
Every item is tracked from the initial order to its return to the inventory through the National Fire Equipment System, which has been credited with saving as much as $26 million a year by reducing the need to purchase new equipment and supplies. Depending on the severity of the fire season, the entire inventory of a cache can be sent out, returned, refurbished, restocked and sent out again multiple times each year.
Once an order is placed, it is entered into a national computerized database as a debit, and the ordering unit is then fiscally responsible for the item. Also, when an order is made, the cache staff is tasked with finding the most expedient and cost-effective means to ship the items where they are needed.
Following a fire or incident, supplies are returned to the cache and the ordering unit is credited in the ordering and tracking system. Typically, a return rate of about 85 percent is achieved for all items shipped to an incident.
Once the returned equipment and supplies are returned to the cache, they are refurbished, repaired, and restocked to be ready and available for the next incident.