NATIONAL WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER DAY | July 2
July 2 honors the dedicated personnel who coordinate their efforts to protect the nation’s wildlands. It’s also a day to remember the sacrifice made each time a firefighter steps into a wildland fire.
Every year, wildfires burn millions of acres across the United States. Federal, state, local, military, contract, international firefighters and support staff respond to many different emergency events. These amazing individuals are the backbone of the wildland fire community. The men and women who work to save lives, property, infrastructure and precious natural and cultural resources every year, deserve incredible gratitude for their professional skills and efforts.
Wildland firefighters are highly trained emergency responders. They are an essential part of a coordinated effort across agencies to respond to wildland fires and other natural emergencies. They comprise crews on the ground, air support, smokejumpers, and incident management teams.
Which agencies comprise of the nation’s wildland fire community and partners at the National Interagency Fire Center?
- Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Bureau of Land Management
- Department of Defense
- National Association of State Foresters
- National Park Service
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- US Fire Administration/FEMA
- U.S. Forest Service
How does technology help fight wildland fires? Location-based technology tracks the location of people and equipment during a wildland fire. This technology offers a promising way to increase the efficiency and safety of wildfire management. Having a real-time view of resources on an incident enables fire managers to adjust their strategy and tactics more quickly as conditions on the ground change. A wide range of applications provide information during a wildland fire, such as:
- Warehouse inventory control;
- Planning for prescribed fires;
- Dispatch systems;
- Managing and sharing incident information;
- Tracking firefighter qualifications; and
- Much more!
Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness
- Create defensible space around your home.
- Harden your home and make it more fire resistant.
- Create a emergency supply kit.
- Create wildfire action plan.
- Report unattended fire by calling 911, especially if conditions are right.
- Remember to extinguish fire pits and campfires before leaving a campsite.
- Don’t throw lit cigarettes out of your moving car because the spark can start a fire, especially if you are in a dry area.
- Make sure caution is practiced when using flammable liquids.
- Have a fire extinguisher available.
- Honor local burning bans, enforcements, etc.
- Stay alert to local warnings when traveling through where a wildfire or smoke is present.
Other Fire Facts
- The overall wildfire activity for 2021 included 58,985 wildfires.
- Wildfires burned over 7 million acres in 2021.
- Wildland firefighters have a variety of tools at their disposal, radio systems (handheld radios and repeaters, remote automated weather stations (RAWS), hand tools (Pulaski, shovel, and Mcleod), aircraft, engines, heavy equipment like dozers, and water tenders.
- Shower units and caterers supply meals and water for larger fire events.
Fire needs heat, oxygen and fuel to survive and firefighters suppress fires by depriving them of that fuel. They perform the laborious, dirty work of starving fires of fuel by building “firelines,” which are a break in vegetation where the organic material is removed down to mineral soil. Today, firefighters on the ground use roughly the same tools to build firelines. A few if the tools used to clear organic material are:
- A combination axe and hoe called a Pulaski.
Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance
National Wildland Firefighter Day takes place during Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance. Wildland firefighters are highly trained emergency responders. Every year they respond to tens of thousands of wildland fires. The Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance runs from June 30 to July 6 to honor the wildland firefighters who have lost their lives battling wildland fires. The wildland firefighting community commemorates this week as a time of reflection and for learning from the tragedies to prevent similar losses.
SUPPORT & SHARE
- Thank a wildland firefighter you know.
- Learn more about wildfires and wildland firefighters.
- Visit the National Interagency Fire Center website to learn about each role.
- Train to be a wildfire firefighter.
- Visit the Wildland Firefighters Monument in Boise, ID.
- Hosting a Wildland Firefighter Day BBQ.
- Establish a proclamation for the day.
- Create banners to hang up outside fire stations, on fire trucks during parades, etc.
- Create social media content, a news release, and other types of communications and outreach opportunities.
- Remembering and honoring all wildland firefighters on July 2 and during the Week of Remembrance, June 30 to July 6.
- Use #WildlandFirefighterDay, #NWFFD, and #ThankAFirefighter when posting on social media.
- Read additional information about National Wildland Firefighter Day at the National Interagency Fire Center website.
NATIONAL WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER DAY HISTORY
Wildfire is an element of nature that humans have had a relationship with for thousands of years. At the beginning of the 20th century, professional foresters responsible for managing federally protected lands were divided. One group thought to use wildfire for ecological benefits, while another group thought to exclude it for fire protection.
In August 1910, wildland fires burned millions of acres taking over 90 lives, including trapping 78 firefighters in the Northern Rockies mountains. The fires galvanized public, scientific, and Congressional support to keep fire out of the woods. By 1911, Congress would double the U.S. Forest Service budget and pass legislation to institutionalize and professionalize fire suppression.
10 AM Policy
The 10 AM Policy was implemented in 1935 allowing the Forest Service to codify total fire suppression. The policy required firefighters to control all wildfire by 10 AM the morning after its first report. Manpower was afforded by the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps providing the human resources necessary to implement the new policy. Overall, the suppression effort would prove to be successful, reducing acres burned. Overall, the policy would drop 50 million acres of wildfire to roughly 3 million by 1966.
In the late 1930s, successful experiments dropping firefighters by parachute to remote fires led to the creation of the smokejumper program. Following WWII, both helicopters and fixed-wing planes, began to deliver firefighters and supporting suppression efforts by dropping water and chemical retardants onto fires.
Starting in the 1950s, the predecessors of today’s Interagency Hotshot Crews, heli-rappel crews, and dedicated wildland fire engine teams came into more widespread use. After working for decades as fire lookouts and on all-female firefighting crews during WWII, women began to enter the professional ranks. Slowly but steadily during the 1960s and 70s, women were earning their way onto the most elite crews.
Wildland Fire Management
The emerging sciences of forest and fire ecology question the exclusion of fire from forests and provide science to support reintroducing wildfire to improve ecosystem health. Removing fire completely did not allow the natural regeneration process in forest ecosystems. During the 1970s federal agencies gave fire managers a more flexible policy of “appropriate suppression action.” This action could range from fully suppressing a fire to confining a fire within a certain area under predetermined conditions.
Major policy changes in 1995 and 2014 continue to enforce appropriate roles a fire plays on land. By embracing a vision of learning to live with wildfire, we can use it in part to restore healthy, resilient landscapes.
Today tens of thousands of men and women serve on wildland fire lines each year. They work to protect more than lives and property, they are integral to improving the health and resilience of America’s forests and grasslands.
In 2022, the National Day Calendar Registrar and the National Interagency Fire Center founded National Wildland Firefighter Day. The day was established to recognize all federal, state, and local wildland firefighters and support staff by spotlighting their dedication and hard work.
For more information on the National Wildland Firefighting Day, visit the National Interagency Fire Center or email BLM_FA_NIFC_Comments@blm.gov with questions or comments. Submit your amazing images and videos of wildland firefighters, support personnel, a wildfire, a prescribed fire, or one of the many firefighting with the Media Form found on the website.
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