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Wind River/Bighorn Basin District Office
Release Date: 06/18/13
Contacts: Sarah Beckwith    

BLM Training Prepares Firefighters for Fire Season

In preparation for another busy wildfire season, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provided training to more than 150 rural volunteer firefighters in Big Horn, Fremont, Hot Springs, Park and Washakie counties this spring. Firefighters received the annual Fireline Safety Refresher and Basic Wildland Firefighting Training.

Jeffrey City Fire Department Captain Steve Garland values the partnership the department has with the BLM fire program. “We, as local volunteer firefighters, appreciate the excellent training, professionalism and tremendous support we receive from the BLM Wind River/Bighorn Basin District (WR/BBD) fire program,” Garland said. “The time and resources they have invested in our training program have been invaluable to the safety of our firefighters.”

With five engines and one twenty-person hand crew providing wildfire initial attack on almost 6 million acres of public lands in the WR/BBD, the BLM has always needed and appreciated the assistance from its partners in suppressing fires that occur on or adjacent to public lands.

“It is imperative that we have great working relationships with our local fire departments and be able to provide the training so that everyone can safely fight the fires ahead,” said BLM Fire Operations Supervisor Aaron Thompson. “We thank all the volunteer firefighters for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend these trainings and for their efforts and support in fire suppression.”

The training sessions are usually held at the various fire halls at night and on weekends because volunteer firefighters have full-time jobs. By taking the training to the counties, volunteers don’t have to take time off work and use their own funds to travel to the BLM offices.

Thermopolis Fire Department Chief Dale Andreen appreciates that the BLM conducts training at the Thermopolis Fire Hall. “With the cooperation of the BLM we have been able to train our members to higher levels of firefighting,” said Andreen. “The experiences that are used as scenarios in the trainings are shared between the instructors and the students because we work together in the field. We build relationships that are key to running safe and efficient fire operations through these trainings,” Andreen continued.

The partnership between the WR/BBD and the counties began in 2002 when the BLM, county fire wardens and Wyoming State Forestry came together 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 program and its 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.

To learn more about the WR/BBD fire program, stop by the district office at 101 South 23rd Street, call 307-347-5100 or visit Please report all wildfires immediately to the Cody Interagency Dispatch Center at 1-800-295-9954 or to 911.

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 Office   101 South 23rd Street      Worland, WY 82401  

Last updated: 06-18-2013