Following the South Canyon Fire in 1994, an interagency team was formed to investigate the fatalities and contributing factors. The subsequent 1995 Federal Wildland Fire Policy and Program Review, signed by both Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, directed Federal wildland fire agencies to establish fire management qualifications standards to improve firefighter safety and increase professionalism in fire management programs.

The Interagency Fire Program Qualifications Task Force was established in July 1997, to develop these qualification standards and accomplish related assignments. Their efforts resulted in the Interagency Fire Program Management Qualifications Standards and Guide, referred to as the IFPM Standard and the Supplemental Qualification Standard for professional GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist positions, which were approved by the Office of Personnel Management in August 2001.