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Citizens Fighting Fire 

Wildland fire at night

Idaho citizens highly value public lands, and the BLM understands their desire to assist in firefighting and protection.  However, independent citizen actions in the past have created potentially difficult and unsafe situations for themselves and BLM wildfire response crews. 

When citizens take action on a public-land fire independent of agency coordination, privately owned equipment can be destroyed, and citizens operating it risk serious injury or death. 

In addition, citizens may be liable for unauthorized ground disturbance using dozers, tractors with discs and other equipment may violate Federal law and conflict with larger land management objectives when performed independent of agency coordination.  

Firefighter and public safety continues to be the number one priority for all firefighting agencies. Policies and laws ensure that fires are managed effectively while keeping employees and the public safe.

What should I do?

If a wildland fire occurs near your property, the most helpful action you can take is contacting the BLM as soon as possible.  The BLM will then coordinate with and advise you regarding the safety of your family and neighbors, determine how your property might best be protected, and ask you for information that will assist in firefighting efforts. 
The BLM does not regulate actions on your private property, but we want to work with you to help ensure that your safety and protection of your property is part of the overall suppression strategy.  Firefighters cannot direct your actions on your own property and will not assume legal responsibility for the independent actions you take.  The best course of action is to establish and maintain open communications with the Incident Commander or designated liaison to ensure shared understanding and personal, public, and firefighter safety.

Rangeland Fire Protection Associations

RFPAs are non-profit organizations established to prevent and suppress range fires.  They represent a collaborative effort among local private landowners, the BLM and the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL).  Idaho State law recently authorized formation of RFPAs on the model of timber fire protection associations. 

brochure> "RFPAs - An Option for Rangeland Fire Protection"

The BLM and IDL provide training to RFPAs at no cost.  IDL also facilitates equipment purchase and acquisition.  Landowners can then provide initial attack using their own equipment along with acquired equipment. 

A total of 100 RFPA members completed training during winter-spring 2013-14.  There are 250 RFPA members plus trained firefighters ready for the 2014 season.  RFPAs in the Mountain Home, Owyhee, Saylor Creek, Three Creek and Black Canyon areas are ready to help protect nearly 4 million acres of private, State and Federal lands, most under agreements with neighboring fire districts and local volunteer fire departments.  map> 

Groups in the Shoshone Basin, Notch Butte, Prairie, Pahsimeroi Valley, Weiser, and Clark County areas have expressed serious interes in forming RFPAs for the 2015 season.  map>

More> about the Mountain Home RFPA 


rangeland fire

How can I use my own equipment? 

Contact your local BLM office to learn about contracting your equipment for use as needed on a wildfire.  Do this before the fire season so that required training, inspections and paperwork can be completed ahead of time. 

The BLM’s policy is to first use vendors who have had their equipment signed-up through the formal solicitation process. 

Find standard equipment specifications on the Eastern Great Basin Coordination Center's website.


group shot Three Creek and Saylor Creek RFPA representatives with BLM leadership
Representatives of the Three Creek and Saylor Creek RFPAs were awarded the 2014 Pulaski Award for outstanding contributions to wildland firefighting.  [BLM photo | far left, Acting BLM Idaho State Director Tim Murphy; far right, rear BLM Director Neil Kornze]