US  Forest Service, Fire and Aviation Management.  Header holds navigational links US  Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management Fire home About Us Safety

Forests and Range Lands


Aviation Safety Center



Fire Applications (Software)

Fire Equipment

Fire Management

Fire Management Today

Fire Science


News & Information


People in Fire

Prevention & Education


Risk Management

Tools & Technology


Wildland Fire Safety

Aerial Application of Fire Retardant.  Photo:  Evening scene with silouette of trees, clouds in a smokey sky and  a helicopter dropping retardant.

The Forest Service has broad responsibilities in the management of wildland fire, ranging from immediate suppression to the lighting of controlled fires to safely restore fire-adapted ecosystems. In managing wildfire, the Forest Service’s clear mission includes protection of landscapes, resources, and people. Regard for human safety and the management of risk guide all fire management decisions and actions. On every fire, firefighter and public safety are the highest priorities.

Aerially-applied fire retardant reduces wildfire intensity and rate of spread, decreasing risks to firefighters, enabling them to construct fireline safely. In many situations, the use of retardant in concert with firefighters on the ground allows the Forest Service to safely meet its responsibilities to protect landscapes, resources, and people.

In October 2007, the Forest Service issued an environmental assessment (EA) and decision notice and finding of no significant impact (DN/FONSI) entitled "Aerial Application of Fire Retardant". In February 2008, the Forest Service amended the DN/FONSI by incorporating the reasonable and prudent alternatives proposed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries during the Section 7 consultation process prescribed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

On July 27, 2010, the United States District Court for the District of Montana issued a decision that invalidated the Forest Service's decision to adopt the Guidelines for Aerial Delivery of Retardant or Foam Near Waterways" (2000 Guidelines). The 2000 Guidelines are to minimize the impact of aerially-delivered fire retardant on aquatic life and habitat. Click here for the 2000 Guidelines. The Court directed the Forest Service, USFWS, and NOAA Fisheries to cure NEPA and ESA violations and for the Forest Service to issue a new decision no later than December 31, 2011.


Record of Decision (ROD)

The Forest Service has released a Record of Decision (ROD) for the continued nationwide aerial application of fire retardant on National Forest System lands. Click here to view the ROD on-line. The issuance of the ROD along with the completion of section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act, completes this effort. Click here to view the Biological Opinions on-line The Final Environmental Impact Statement is also available for viewing. Click here to view the FEIS on-line

Implementation Guide for Aerial Application of Fire Retardant
Forest Service Guide
Interagency Wildland Fire Chemicals Reporting Tools, Forms and Policy:

Getting Started with the Reporting Tool

Summary – Reporting and Monitoring Requirements by Agency

On-Line Reporting Tool - Wildland Fire Chemical Reporting Tool and Form submission – WFCMR

Printable Data Collection Forms for Field Use

Policy for Aerial Delivery of Wildland Fire Chemicals near Waterways (2000 guidelines update)

Forest Wide Aerial Fire Retardant Avoidance Maps: (for more information on where to obtain more detailed maps and data availability refer to Implementation Guide-Chapter 2)
Browse by Subject:
Seeing Red: A Short History of Fire Retardant
Environmental Assessment (Historic files)
Total Retardant Used: 
arrow 2013
arrow 2012
arrow Previous: Refer to FEIS

Some of the documents posted on this website are presented in Adobe Acrobat .pdf PDF Icon and link to their site file format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. Click here to download free Adobe Acrobat Reader software


This site is maintained by:
USDA Forest Service
Fire & Aviation Management
3833 S. Development Ave.
Boise, ID 83705
(208) 387-5092