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May 31, 2007
In Reply Refer To:
9210 (FA-103) P

Information Bulletin No. 2007-088

To:                   All Field Office Officials

From:               Director

Subject:           Responsibilities in Fire Management – 2007 Fire Season

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been faced with many challenges over the past few years in responding to wildland fire and national disasters. Our employees are to be commended on their performance and commitment to our mission. Your personal commitment and understanding of fire and aviation management are becoming even more critical for our agency’s success. The 2007 fire season in the Southeast and Southwest has already begun.  Predictive services are forecasting an above average fire season in several states, and potentially an active hurricane season.
I ask for your personal commitment to: 1) engage in managing and mitigating risks associated with fire management operations; 2) be knowledgeable in the fundamental principles of safe and effective fire operations; 3) engage in the collaborative process of fire planning with local and state agencies and key stake holders; 4) reduce fuels and restore ecosystems; and 5) increase management efficiencies and manage costs during all wildland fire and prescribed fire operations. 
In addition to your personal commitment, I would like to emphasize the following critical areas where your leadership is vital to successful wildland fire management.
Safety continues to be the highest priority in all fire operations, including wildfire suppression, prescribed fire, and other fuels treatment.  Leaders at every level must understand, communicate, implement and enforce effective safety management policies and practices. Fire program leaders must seek continued improvement in all areas of organizational safety, both for themselves and for their subordinates. 
I ask for your steadfast involvement in and oversight of wildfire and prescribed fire operations in the upcoming season. Investigation reports have shown that inadequate leadership was a direct causal factor in fatalities on the South Canyon, Thirty-Mile, and Cramer fires. Our duty is to learn and adapt so that we continue to provide firefighter and public safety through our commitment to leadership and risk management. 
The most essential element for success in the wildland fire organization is competent leadership. The fire and all-hazard response environment is complex, dynamic, unpredictable, and often dangerous. Agency administrators and fire program leaders are expected to use their knowledge, skills, and abilities to make sound and timely decisions and to take decisive and effective actions.
The convergence of several factors – climate, fuels, Wildland Urban Interface expansion and more – is making the business of wildland firefighting increasingly more complex and challenging. Recent legal proceedings associated with the fatalities that occurred during the 2001 Thirty-Mile Fire in central Washington pose additional challenges.
These developments present both real and potential threats to firefighter morale, recruitment retention, and safety.  The impacts are being felt at all levels of the national fire community. We want to express our respect and appreciation to the wildland fire professionals that daily take on the complex challenges in wildland firefighting. We are taking actions to address the issues of liability.  An interagency memo outlining the issues and steps that are being taken was recently distributed by the Fire Executive Council. In addition, improved access to information and resources about firefighter liability is now available at www.nifc.gov/liability. This web site serves to post information, answer questions, and communicate messages from management.
Fire and Aviation Operations
Agency administrators and fire leaders must apply fire and aviation management policy in a sensible, effective and consistent manner. All preparedness activities should be focused on developing fire operations capabilities and on performing successful fire operations. Planning, organizing, and implementing appropriate fire operations must always be focused on directly and economically achieving a defined objective.
Managing Suppression Costs
The BLM’s ability to fund a balanced program of land and resource management, research, and cooperative activities is threatened as a result of growing suppression costs. Continued increases in suppression expenditures correspond to direct reductions to preparedness and other base program allocations.
Part of the solution in dealing with rising suppression costs is to increase efficiencies within the interagency wildland fire community. Toward this end, the agencies are taking aggressive steps to identify, communicate, and implement management controls that will refine policy, strengthen executive and managerial decision-making and oversight, and improve the efficiency of fire operations.
Maximizing the cost-effectiveness of fire and aviation operations is the responsibility of all involved, including those who authorize, direct or implement those operations. Agency administrators and their delegates (including incident commanders) will be held accountable for exercising direct cost containment by ensuring that planned expenditures are sensible and that actual expenditures measurably affect intended outcomes. Utilization of decision support tools and advice from mentors and advisors will assist in this practice. Multi-agency coordination groups will be held accountable for exercising indirect cost containment by ensuring that firefighting resource allocation is based on established priorities and that allocated resources are efficiently and economically utilized to accomplish management objectives. We all need to be more efficient at setting state and national priorities and sharing scarce resources across traditional district and state lines.  This will require active management of priorities and resource allocation at the state and national level.
Appropriate Management Response (AMR)
The term “appropriate management response” (AMR) is the action taken to a wildland fire that most effectively, efficiently, and safely meets objectives identified in approved Resource Management Plans and Fire Management Plans. It is determined by specific, pre-established criteria stated in the plan. The response may range across a spectrum of tactical operations, from monitoring to intensive management actions. Regardless of the type of response, leaders must ensure that decisions are timely and actions are decisive. We are working with our interagency partners to continue to merge suppression and wildland fire-use policy, standards, and procedures into a common approach that acknowledges a full range of management responses.  I urge each of you to work with your cooperators and publics to establish a reasonable expectation of how fire will be managed on your respective unit.
Interagency Cooperation and Coordination
Interagency cooperation, coordination, and collaboration with our Federal, state, tribal, and local partners is fundamental to delivering a safe, effective, and efficient wildland fire management program. None of us can afford to have separate and unique programs. I am proud of the level of cooperation that has developed over the last thirty or more years and urge each of you to continue to work with your partners to improve and strengthen that cooperation.
In Summary
Leadership is the most essential element for a successful wildland fire program.  All agency administrators and fire management leaders must understand fire management policy and apply it operationally in a sensible, efficient and consistent manner.  Safety is a core value and leaders at every level must understand, communicate, implement and enforce effective safety management policies and practices. Please refer to “Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations” January 2007, Chapter 2, for the BLM Organization and Responsibilities. Together we can embrace the lessons of the past and prepare for another challenging season in 2007. 
Signed by:
Authenticated by:
James M. Hughes
Robert M. Williams
Acting, Director
Division of IRM Governance,WO-560

Last updated: 10-21-2009