Alaska wildland fire agencies are working together and with our national partners on addressing how to provide for public safety and protection of values while reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure to firefighters and the communities we work in. Alaska fire managers are coordinating plans for the impacts COVID-19 will have on the response to and management of wildfires in Alaska. Because public and firefighter safety is the number one priority, we are following protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding ways to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19 in our workforce including proper hygiene, teleworking, social distancing, and limiting non-essential travel.
This page includes several documents of information regarding Alaska wildland fire response while dealing with the added challenges of a pandemic.
Alaska wildland fire response and impacts of COVID-19 FAQs
While COVID-19 circumstances are rapidly evolving, and federal, state and local guidelines continue to adapt with the situation, here are some answers to frequently asked questions as we continue to strategize our wildfire response in these challenging and uncertain times.
Click on this link for a PDF file of the FAQs.
Best management practices for COVID-19 in and around rural Alaska communities within BLM AFS protection area
May 21, 2020 – The BLM Alaska Fire Service understands the concerns the rural residents within AFS Fire Protection have over the potential for exposure to COVID-19 from visitors and nonresidents. In response to these concerns, BLM AFS staff has developed plans we believe will minimize the risks while still allowing firefighting personnel access to communities if needed. We are in discussions with several community leaders with the hopes of opening dialogue with communities before the fire season is in full swing.
Click on this link for PDF of identified best management practices for protecting rural residents when firefighters mobilize for wildfires.
Alaska Division of Forestry COVID-19 response tools
National Interagency Fire Center COVID-19 and wildfire response information
All wildland fire agencies remain committed to wildland fire readiness through active hiring of fire personnel, adjusting training practices to minimize contact and slow COVID-19 spread potential, and assessing prescribed burning operations. All wildland firefighting partners are working together to plan for fire activity during COVID-19.
To further ensure the highest degree of readiness, the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group requested three regional Area Command Teams to work with partners at all levels in the fire community to develop protocols for wildfire response during the COVID-19 pandemic. These Wildland Fire Response Plans, linked below, are available to all incident management teams and fire units to help guide effective wildfire response.
The safety of the public and all wildland fire responders is always the number one priority for all wildland fire agencies.
Click on link to read more.
CDC FAQs for wildland firefighters
(March 30, 2021) What steps can be taken by wildland fire personnel to prevent infection and spread of COVID-19? How can a crew, module, or resource “isolate as a unit” to better protect themselves?
Click on link for website.
Source: Wildland Fire Medical and Public health Advisory Team (MPHAT)
(Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 2021-04-27) The wildland fire community’s greatest resource is our personnel, and ensuring our personnel are healthy is the first step in meeting the wildland fire mission.
Click on link to go to website.
The Department of the Interior continues to fulfill its firefighting mission during the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that our ability to respond to wildfires over the coming months remains effective, we’re working with our interagency partners to:
- Hire the firefighters we need.
- Protect our firefighters & mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
- Prepare for outbreaks at incidents.
- Adapt wildfire response plans.
- Continue our work reducing wildfire risk.
- Monitor new developments.
Read the latest from the Coronavirus Task Force, the CDC’s COVID-19 health information, and the U.S. Government response to Coronavirus.