Early July of 2022, a lightning event swept across the state of Alaska, leaving a swath of more than 100 new fire starts in its path and several more in the following days. By July 20, a total 530 wildfires burned an estimated 3 million acres across the state. At first look, the map displaying all 530 fires is overwhelming. The organization of this large volume of information is crucial to meet affected local communities and the general public’s needs.
Alaska, a state the size of one-fifth of the Lower 48 states, is divided into three wildland fire protection agencies to maximize the efficient use of fire-related resources.
The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (BLM AFS), Alaska Division of Forestry and Fire Protection (DOF), and U.S. Forest Service are delegated suppression responsibilities for wildland fires within their separate protection areas regardless of fires occurring within agency jurisdiction.
Okay, but how do multiple government agencies across a state so big provide consistent fire information?
But you might ask, how can eight public information officers even provide accurate and timely information on more than 500 fires?
That is when the Alaska Interagency Wildfire Joint Information Center, or JIC, comes in.
The purpose of the JIC is to ensure critical information is consistent and accurate across all agencies with jurisdictions involved. It provides the media, the public and interested parties a central point of contact to coordinate incident information activities.
Normally, many of these duties are handled by BLM AFS and DOF public information staff in the Alaska Interagency Wildland Fire Information Office. However, the JIC is activated by the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center when it’s determined the number and complexity of wildland fires burning across the state warrants additional public information presence.
The JIC also offers additional support to IMT information sections and serves as the point of contact for fires that an IMT does not manage in the BLM AFS protection area that covers the northern half of Alaska. Public information officers from several agencies across the country work together to ensure clear and accurate fire information delivery to the public.
It takes a team of dedicated and hard-working folks to carry out this coordination, with each of the four BLM AFS fire management zones, call center operators for the main wildfire information line at (907)356-5511, and a social media coordinator for both DOF and BLM AFS Facebook pages (@BLMAFS, @ak.forestry) and Twitter accounts (@ak_forestry, @BLM_AFS) and the main wildland fire information website, akfireinfo.com. This effort orchestrates accurate, timely, and quality fire information presented to you and the general public.
From all of us public information officers at the JIC and the Alaska Wildland Fire Information Office, it is a pleasure to take care of fire information needs for you and the communities of Alaska!
For more information on wildfires in Alaska, contact the Alaska Interagency Joint Information Center at (907) 356-5511 or email@example.com.
Categories: AK Fire Info