<<Back to Fire and Aviation


Fire Restrictions
Firefighting Jobs
Fuels Management
Wildland Fire Operations
Fire Zone Map
Billings Dispatch Center
Lewistown Dispatch Center
Miles City Dispatch Center
Fire Management Plans
Year Round Fire Restrictions

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) aviation program plays a significant role in fire fighting efforts each year on public lands, not only across Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, but wherever pilots and firefighters may be called to duty throughout the nation. But the BLM’s aviation management program reaches far beyond its firefighting efforts. The program’s mission includes supporting wildland fire and prescribed fire operations, disaster response, wildlife census, wild horse and burro operations, habitat management, range survey, cadastral survey, law enforcement, range land management, photo mapping and search and rescue.

To accomplish the fire program’s mission, pilots utilize a variety of aircraft including helicopters, Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs), large airtankers, air tactical aircraft, smokejumper aircraft and large transport aircraft.

Air Tanker Program

It is critical that BLM’s wildland firefighters have a variety of effective tools at their disposal. The agency has used SEAT firefighting aircraft for many years to perform outstanding work in sustaining wildland firefighting operations. The aircraft can utilize their inherent speed, mobility, and strength during initial and extended attack situations. SEATs are highly mobile and can be set up at remote bases and local airstrips, decreasing turnaround time between drops.

Large air tankers drop apprpoved fire suppressant and retardant over all types of terrain throughout the United States.

Central Montana District

Located in Lewistown, Mont., the Central Montana District is home to both an exclusive helicopter base and a SEAT base.

Miles City Interagency Dispatch Center

The Eastern Montana Fire Zone (EMFZ) has an aviation staff consisting of Unit Aviation Manager, Airbase Manager, Single Engine Airtanker Manager, Fire Helicopter Supervisor, Assistant Helicopter Supervisor, Helitack Squad Leader, and two to three seasonal helitack squads

During the fire season, the EMFZ supports one exclusive-use helicopter and a SEAT base. During high suppression activities, as many as 10-12 additional aircraft can be pre-positioned and utilized in the EMFZ.

Billings Dispatch Center and Air Tanker Base

Located in Billings, Mont., the Billings Dispatch Center and Air Tanker Bases is an exclusive-use air attack platform and a full-service retardant base for large air tankers and single-engine air tankers. The base also supports numerous logistical and multi-functional missions.


Aviation Links