News Media Guide
BLM Wyoming’s public affairs staff will do everything possible to meet your information coverage needs in the case of a wildfire. We want you to get the information you need as quickly as possible.
We also ask for your patience during times of intense fire activity. There is only one public affairs specialist handling all the media for one area during the first few days of a fire, and multiple starts are common. Getting a handle on the situation can be extremely difficult, especially during the first 48 hours. Please remember when there are large, multiple fire events, it may take a little while to respond to your requests.
We understand that informing the public is important and that you are working against definite time constraints. Informing the public is equally important to us and we depend on you to reach them. That is why we will do our best to accommodate your needs. Remember, however, that in any fire situation safety will always be our top priority.
- Access to fires: If you’re making arrangements to go to fire camp or the fire line, we are going to insist that you have an escort. It’s not because we’re trying to control your story or we’re afraid you are going to see something you shouldn’t - it’s because we’re concerned for your safety and for the safety of the firefighters.
- Getting the “Story”: There are numerous news story possibilities in a fire situation besides that of firefighters attacking the flame. The logistics required to support a firefighting effort are huge. Other story ideas include: fire prevention, rehabilitation, detection, aircraft use, retardant use, and incident base camp life.
- Riding in helicopters: For safety and liability reasons, government-provided helicopter rides to view or film fires are not available. If your station (or an affiliate) has its own helicopter and you want to film a fire, you will need to make arrangements through Air Operations, Air Attack, or the Incident Commander assigned to a particular fire. For reasons of safety, flights (both helicopter and fixed wing), and air space over fires is very tightly controlled. Typically, temporary air space closures are done in coordination with the FAA. Sometimes there are opportunities where footage is “pooled.”
- Dressed for the field: If you do get to go on an escorted trip to a fire, you will be required to dress according to BLM standards. A fire-resistant Nomex shirt, Nomex pants, and hard hat will be provided for you to wear. You need to supply your own leather footwear. Footwear must be eight inch-high and 100 percent leather. Leather and synthetic fabric-mixed footwear is not appropriate.
- Your safety: Safety is the number one priority -- no ifs, ands or buts about it. If you want to see something or do something related to a fire and you’re told “No” because of safety—that’s it.
- Photographing people: Some firefighters, especially Native Americans, are sensitive about having their picture taken. Don’t assume it is okay to photograph people. Ask permission first. The same is true about publishing names and towns where firefighters are from—ask first.
- Media Importance: We recognize the news media coverage of wildland fires is crucial to keeping the public informed. We appreciate your help in disseminating information. You are providing a critical service to BLM and to the public. Thank you.
BLM Wyoming State Office
Cindy Wertz, 307-775-6014
High Plains District
Buffalo, Casper & Newcastle Field Offices
Lesley Collins, 307-261-7603
High Desert District
Kemmerer, Pinedale, Rawlins & Rock Springs Field Offices
Shelley Gregory, 307-315-0612, firstname.lastname@example.org
Serena Baker, 307-212-0197, email@example.com
Wind River/Bighorn Basin District
Cody, Lander & Worland Field Offices
Sarah Beckwith, 307-347-5207
Other Fire Information Resources
BLM Wyoming Fire
Wyoming Interagency Fire Restrictions
National Interagency Fire Center
National Weather Service, Cheyenne
According to the BLM Wyoming fire management office, the upcoming fire season is predicted to be near normal statewide. Thanks to rain and snow during the month of May, conditions have improved over much of the state. However, if dry conditions return during June and July, these conditions could change rapidly.
According to the Rocky Mountain Area Predictive Services Group, drought conditions have worsened over western Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, and western Nebraska compared to a year ago. Recent precipitation over the last month, however, has improved these conditions.
Snowpack is below normal in the Black Hills of South Dakota and areas west of the Divide, and near-average snowpack conditions exist along and east of the Divide over Colorado. Early snowmelt was a concern during the first part of March, but the recent wet weather pattern has helped alleviate some, though not all, of the concern.
Precipitation deficits in the last 30 to 90 days have been most pronounced from the northwest corner of Colorado into southwest and west-central Wyoming, and to a lesser extent in the southern portion of the Black Hills. Elsewhere across the Rocky Mountain area, precipitation amounts are closer to average in the last 30 to 90 days, and have been above average over much of South Dakota, Nebraska, eastern Colorado, and Kansas.
Current climate outlooks and analysis support average precipitation regimes for the Rocky Mountain region this summer if Tropical Pacific temperatures remain neutral and Atlantic Multidecadal Ocean (AMO) temperatures remain warm. However, if La Nina (cool) conditions develop in the Tropical Pacific during the late spring or summer, drier and hotter conditions may develop over portions of the Rockies this fire season.
The two maps below courtesy of NOAA show the current drought conditions and the summer drought outlooks.
When covering a fire, firefighters and public affairs staff may use terms that are unfamiliar to both reporters and the general public. The following is a list of commonly used words and phrases and their definition to help the public better understand wildfires.