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Wind River/Bighorn Basin District
Release Date: 02/17/12
Contacts: Sarah Beckwith    

BLM Pulaski Award Shared with Thermopolis Firefighting Partners

The prestigious Pulaski Award, presented to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wind River/Bighorn Basin District (WR/BBD) fire program, will be temporarily located at the Thermopolis Fire Hall in recognition of the BLM’s partnership with Hot Springs County Rural Fire District.

BLM Assistant Fire Management Officer Ryan Sundberg and Thermopolis firefighter Rodney McQueen with the Pulaski award.
BLM Assistant Fire Management Officer Ryan Sundberg and Thermopolis firefighter Rodney McQueen with the Pulaski award.  
The Pulaski Award.
The Pulaski Award
Wind River/Bighorn Basin District firefighters.
Members of the Wind River/Bighorn Basin District Fire Program with the Pulaski Award.
The Pulaski Award recognizes outstanding contributions to wildland firefighting and America’s wildland firefighters. This national award from the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior is presented annually by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho. The WR/BBD fire program received the award for its work in developing interagency partnerships geared towards cooperation, coordination and the standardization of fire management in the state of Wyoming.

WR/BBD Fire Management Officer Chuck Russell is sharing the recognition with partners by sending the award to locations throughout the area. “We could not have received this award without our great fire staff and cooperators,” Russell said. “I want the Pulaski Award to travel so that all the folks who came together to help develop these relationships can enjoy it.”

The Pulaski Award, a 30-inch bronze statue of a wildland firefighter created by Larry Noland, is named for a young forest ranger who led his crew through thick smoke, heat and flames to the safety of a railroad tunnel during the Montana/Idaho inferno of 1910. Also named for this ranger is a half axe/half hoe tool used commonly in wildland firefighting. The award was first presented in 1998.

“I am very excited for the district to receive and share this award with our counterparts throughout the Bighorn Basin,” said Rodney McQueen of Hot Spring County Rural Fire District.

Following two weeks at the Thermopolis Fire Hall, the award will wrap-up its tour in Lander. Since June 2011, the award has traveled to the following locations: Cody Fire Department, Cody Interagency Dispatch Center, BLM Cody Field Office, Lovell Fire Department, Big Horn County Fire Warden’s Office, Worland Fire Department and BLM Worland Field Office.

The WR/BBD and their partners, fire wardens from Big Horn, Fremont, Hot Springs, Park and Washakie counties and Wyoming State Forestry, came together in 2002 and identified the following goals and objectives to address as a group: 1) Promote safety in suppression and preparedness operations, 2) Provide rural fire departments and partners current course offerings, 3) Improve cooperator involvement and interaction with federal agencies, 4) Improve Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) community protection, and 5) Open lines for collaborative training between cooperating agencies. The group realized early on that it would take a commitment by all members at the local, county, state and federal levels to be successful.

After the cooperative partnership was initiated, the group recognized that firefighter safety is a primary concern and that risk to firefighters required immediate action. As a result, the WR/BBD fire staff and their partners took action and taught 10 courses (160 hours of classroom instruction) to 110 students from eight different departments. Due to the success during that first year, the WR/BBD has continued the effort each year since 2002. During 2009 and 2010 the WR/BBD provided 22 courses (224 hours of classroom instruction) to 144 students from 16 different departments engaged in wildland fire.

“The group's work is one example of the success that can be realized by getting employees from a variety of different organizational disciplines involved in resolving critical issues through a collaborative effort,” NIFC Governing Board Chair Gary Bowers said. “The work of the WR/BBD is an excellent example of how we can set aside jurisdictional boundaries and work together to strengthen the fire workforce.”

For more information, please contact the WR/BBD Office at 307-347-5100.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Wind River/Bighorn Basin District   101 South 23rd      Worland, WY 82401  

Last updated: 02-19-2012