What’s the Alaska Fire Service?

April 1, 2015

nightSilouette

You work for the Alaska Fire Service? What is that? Are you part of the state?

My fourth fire season is approaching and I still get questions like the ones above. Here’s the thing. Not only from newcomers to the state do I get these questions, but also from Alaskans who have been here…for years. But I understand. It’s America’s Last Frontier: rough living in remote locations and we like it that way! Sound familiar?

If it weren’t for one pesky little thing, you wouldn’t need to know what the Alaska Fire Service is or does. What is that one pesky thing you ask? Well the answer is simple: wildland fire. Wildland fire in Alaska consumes roughly 1.3 million acres per year for a 10-year average. Sometimes it’s less and sometimes more. For example, last year only 233 thousand acres burned while in 2004 a record 6.59 million acres burned. The Alaska Fire Service is one of the agencies that stand between you and that wall of destructive burning flames.

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (BLM AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, is a federal organization that falls under the structures of the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management.

BLM AFS provides wildland fire suppression services for Department of the Interior and Native Corporation lands in Alaska. In addition to suppressing wildland fires, BLM AFS has other statewide responsibilities, including: interpretation of fire management policy; oversight of the BLM Alaska Aviation program; planning, implementing, and monitoring fuels management projects; disposing of hazardous materials; and operating and maintaining advanced communication and computer systems such as the Alaska Lightning Detection System. BLM AFS operates on an interagency basis. Cooperators include: the Bureau of Land Management, State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army in Alaska.

Subunits under the BLM AFS include: the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center (AICC), Alaska Smokejumpers, Chena Interagency Hotshots (IHC), Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshots (IHC) and the North Star Fire Crew. BLM AFS also has Fire Specialists and other support professionals to accomplish its statewide mission. In addition, AFS manages the training and deployment of Emergency Firefighter (EFF) Crews from Native Alaska villages.

Fire season is nigh. Indeed it is knocking at the door. Winter was mild and temperatures were warmer than usual. Little snowpack and dry conditions portend an early fire season. It’s time for us all to prepare. The BLM Alaska Fire Service is prepared and ready.

Providing wildland fire suppression services and aviation oversight for America’s Last Frontier.

About afsakfireinfo

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 240 million acres of Department of the Interior and Native Corporation Lands in Alaska. In addition, AFS has other statewide responsibilities that include: interpretation of fire management policy; oversight of the BLM Alaska Aviation program; fuels management projects; and operating and maintaining advanced communication and computer systems such as the Alaska Lightning Detection System. AFS also maintains a National Incident Support Cache with over $15 million in inventory. The Alaska Fire Service provides wildland fire suppression services for America’s “Last Frontier” on an interagency basis with the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Military in Alaska.

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