Applegate Field Office

Surprise Valley Interagency Fuels Module

Interested in joining our team of firefighting professionals?

Please contact us by phone or email.  Applications are usually accepted from mid-December through mid-January each year.  Look for our vacancy announcements on USAJOBS.

Dana Cook - Fire Managment Officer


The Surprise Valley Interagency Fuels Module is made up of both BLM and BIA employees.  The crew is an initial attack fire fighting resource used nationally in suppresion and wildland fire use, while also completing important habitat restoration work in northeast California.


Firefighters hiking into a fire assignment with tall conifers in the background

The BLM Surprise Valley Interagency Fuels Module spends their summer cutting trees within hazardous fuels reduction projects, completing habitat restoration projects and fighting fires as part of a 20 person hand crew.  This 12-15 person hand crew works hard on the fire line and at home doing habitat restoration work along with clearing firebreaks around local communities and structures.  The crew is made up of locals who grew up here in Surprise Valley along with seasonal workers who travel from as far as New York, Alaska, Illinois, Virginia, Idaho and Oregon to join this crew in this important work.

Firefighter in full gear in the charred trees of a wildland fire with flames in the background

Crew hiking through sagebrush towards an aspen stand with juniper encroachment

Sawyer cutting snags with a spotter behind her on a fire assignment.

Western juniper is one of our biggest challenges here in sagebrush country.  We use a combination of treatments to reduce the young invasive juniper where it has spread from it's native woodland areas into important sagebrush and bitterbrush wildlife habitat.  Due to a shrinking habitat, the agencies that manage sage grouse populations would prefer no fire at all in this fire dependent landscape.  In response to this concern we put out all natural and human caused fire, therefore the landscape is not allowed to burn as it would have historically and preserves this important habitat.  Cutting invasive juniper is a way of mimicking what natural fire might do. 

Hazardous Fuels Reduction Crew Member sawing a juniper.
Firefighter lighting a prescribed fire in High Rock Canyon.
Fuels crew in full firefighting gear saw down a juniper

Each crew member is trained in chainsaw safety and use, wildland fire behavior, wildland firefighting, CPR and First Aid, Defensive Driving and other important safety courses.  Safety meetings are held every morning and safety is the number one priority for all firefighter crew members.

  20 person firefighting handcrew in full firefighting gear.
Two women fire fighters in full firefighter gear with chainsaws in the foreground and tall conifers in the background.
20 person handcrew in full firefighter gear on the cub complex

The Surprise Valley Interagency Fuels Module has been hard at work on public lands since 1991.