NRCG

NORTHWEST MONTANA ZONE

FALL MEETING

November 29, 2000

 

Location:  Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Office – Kalispell, Mt.

Times:  9:00 – 15:30

 In Attendance:

 

 Agency Reports

Flathead County:

·       Concern was expressed that there was not a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities between County Commissioners and Area Commanders last summer.  Now is the time to work this out.  Discussions consisted of possible solutions to the problem (i.e. area training, Line Officer training in NTC and MARANA and better communications in general).

·       The fire annex to the Flathead County Emergency Operations Plan is due for review.  Wildland fire is a subsection of the fire annex.

·       All outlying County areas that are not in a district (Fire Service Area - FSA) will now be part of a FSA district administered from the County Office (private lands only).

·       Discussion occurred about fuels treatment around private residences (also addressed the Federal Wildland Urban Interface Initiative).

·       Discussions about who is responsible for initial attack in the County (the County?) and where funding for this would come from.

·       There is confusion about payments to the Rural Fire Districts in an emergency.

·       Discussions about the FIDC/Flathead County agreement regarding notification of each respective entity during initial attack fires.  Ted Mead will follow up on the status of the agreement.

·       Discussions occurred about what the county fire protection assessment dollars that go to DNRC are used for.  Ted Mead explained that by law they pay 1/3 of the DNRC pre-suppression budget.  Suppression costs are not covered by this assessment.

·       Flathead County was concerned that other agencies commented that they (the Counties) were not concerned about their employees’ safety.  The County felt that these were unfair comments.

·       Flathead County is developing a wildland fire (primarily IA) program specifically for County Fire Departments using NFPA 1051 standards (which should be recognized by NWCG).

 

DNRC

·       DNRC had 170 fires last year with the majority human caused (a 45-55 split), they used one Type 2 team and three Type 3 teams. 

·       The DNRC helicopter flew 170 hours and had one incident (a rotor strike with no injuries).  The county expressed their appreciation for the use of the DNRC helicopter during a recent sear & rescue.  They did express concern about one incident where the helicopter did not use a longline with the bucket, which created some rotor wash problems.

·       1308 EFF’s were trained and 358 were hired by DNRC.

·       A preparedness request was submitted last summer in conjunction with the Flathead and Kootenai National Forests and the funding was received and used.

·       A good safety record was achieved this summer, especially considering the activity.

·       The Zone MAC group worked well.  Although the fire restriction process was cumbersome, it too went well.  Public information also went well.

·       There was good line officer involvement in the fires.

·       Two arsonists were arrested for 5 fires near Plains

·       The DNRC fire review will be held December 14-15 at the Hampton Inn.  They hope to have a panel discussion on the future of the DNRC Fire Management Organization.

·       In the State Fire Assistance Grants, funding has been increased for this year.  Priorities are as follows:

-        Fuels mitigation, public information @ Big Mtn. area ($165,000 grant with a 50-50 match)

-        Fuels mitigation around the Jette Lake subdivision in Lake County

-        Ongoing efforts in the Swan Valley to do fuel hazard & evacuation planning

-        Countywide risk rating in Flathead County

·       Some salvage logging is in the works for areas of State Lands that were burned this year.

·       Funding has been increased for the Volunteer Fire Assistance Program.

 

Flathead National Forest

·       The North Fork Improvement Association has asked for “fuels around homes” assistance.  A defensible space training session was held in July of this year.  It had a limited turnout by residents.

·       Several hazard fuels removal projects are planned for 2001 in the Tally Lake, Swan Lake and Canyon (Hungry Horse to West Glacier) areas.

·       The forest contracted an A-Star helicopter this summer.  The ship has better speed and range.  It flew 199 hours (175.7 on fires) with only 17 of those hours off forest.  Total helicopter costs were $257,864.

·       The retardant base ‘dropped’ 800,000 gallons of retardant this season.

·       The Forest had a good safety record this summer.

·       The Forest had 99 fires, 738 individual dispatches

·       The fixed wing contract changed during the summer but worked out OK.

·       There were 35 fires out of Spotted Bear.  The Chipmunk was the biggest at 3130 acres.  60 truckloads of timber were removed from along the roadway that had been cut on the Chipmunk fire.

 

Glacier National Park

·       The Park had a busy year but had less activity than others in the area.  A priority was to be prepared if extreme activity were to develop (which it didn’t).

·       There were a total of 71 wildland fire dispatches during 2000.  Of these, there were 48 out-of-park mutual assist responses and 34 in-park Wildland Fires.

·       Due to the extremely dry year and surrounding fire activity,  all in-park Wildland Fires were suppression fires and no Wildland Fires were managed for Resource Benefits (WFURBs) (previously called Prescribed Natural Fires).  Of the 34 in-park Wildland Fires, 7  were Natural Outs requiring only lookout or aerial monitoring, 23 were suppressed at less than 1 acre, and the remaining 4 totaled 2773 acres (Parke Peak, 2,386 acres; Sharon, 356 acres; Grinnell, 21 acres; Carcajou, 10 acres).  All fires but one were determined to be naturally caused (lightning).  Due to the National Park Service restrictions imposed on Prescribed Fires, none were conducted in the year 2000.

·       No out-of-park fire management teams were used during the summer of 2000

·       The Canadians were used three times on fires.

·       The safety record was good.

·       The potential was great if the weather hadn’t changed in September.

·       Caroline Lansing’s position is being announced.

·       There are several different initiatives coming out recently which could change things dramatically next year.  Possible some new positions.

·       A joint Fire Management Plan is still being discussed and pursued between Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest.

 

Kootenai National Forest

·       The Forest had 280 documented fires burning 45,000 acres.  Most of these fires started August 10-11.

·       There were no structures lost.

·       The MAC group was more effective than it had been in past years.

·       The restrictions were difficult but worked well

·       Teams from New Zealand and Australia assisted.

·       The Forest had 4 complexes

·       The SEAT dropped 250,000 gallons.

·       The Forest fire review has been postponed.

 

Committee Reports

 

Fire Business Management

·       Bill Caldwell did not attend but left notes from the Fire Business Management meeting.  These are available on the NRCG web page.


Fire Use Committee

·       Since Caroline Lansing left, the Zone does not have a representative on the NRCG Fire Use Committee.  Fred Vanhorn will see if Dennis Divoky is able to be on the Committee.

 

Operations Committee

·       Crew typing is still being discussed (possible a Type 3 crew).

·       MIFF issues were discussed (discipline, supervision, and performance problems).

·       Area Command/MAC operations were discussed (what worked and what didn’t).  There was some concern that the Communications could have been better with Area Command.

·       The Area Command had some concerns working with 2 expanded dispatches.

·       Zone MAC call information was not always shared with dispatch and others.

·       There still is a shortage in air support positions.  A plan is being developed to try and alleviate this (qualified persons put on list, people targeted, mentoring, training, assignments to teams, etc.)

·       Some concern existed about Hotshot performance (particularly in appearance and attitude).  These problems were not noted with the Flathead Hotshots.

·       One new hotshot crew will probably be created, to be stationed on the Lewis and Clark National Forest for this next year.

·       It was an interesting year!

 

Prevention Committee

·       Jeff Stevenson from the Kootenai NF is the new chair of the Prevention Committee.

·       The committee is working on zone wide media prevention efforts.

·       They will look and see if the generic fire prevention messages are cost effective.

·       Pat Cross (DNRC), Lynn Ogle (Flathead County) and Cathy York (Glacier National Park) are also on the committee.

·       Fireworks trunks (fire education) are available and the zone will try to get three.  School superintendents should be contacted to use these.

·       The committee will review the fire restrictions plan and recommend adjustments to the Zone Board.

·       As time permits, they will also address prevention messages and the Firewise program.

·       The next Zone Executive Board meeting will have the National Fire Plan and the Zone Cooperative Fire Specialist position on the agenda (Paul Linse).

 

Training Committee

·       Bob Cunningham is the new Northern Training Center Manager

·       We need to do a better job at completing the nomination forms.  Not all information is being included.

·       They discussed each agencies hiring plans for the next year.

·       Marilyn Johnson will continue to be the committee chair for this year but will need someone to shadow her since she will probably not be around next year at this time.  Each agency will canvass their people to try and find someone to shadow Marilyn.  Let Paul Linse know by 1/15.

·       The zone training committee will probably meet the 1st week of March.

·       They are finalizing the agenda and courses for the Zone training academy

·       There will be a Dispatch Recorder course in January or February of 2001.

·       The high school training program is happening again this year (Feb-May, MWF).

·       Flathead County will be offering an Incident Dispatch course this winter/spring.  Alan Marble will notify the agencies when this training will occur.

·       Safe practices training is required annually for all people who will be in the fire area.  This includes contractors.

·       A EFF/AD training package (SOP) will be put together to address Contractor/EFF fire qualifications and procedures.  Marilyn Johnson and Steve Wirt will chair the task group (the NW Montana Training Committee) assigned to develop these.  A draft package will be available for review by the Zone Board by 2/1.

·       It is hoped that contractors will do most of the training for the Ads, EFFs, & Contractors.

 

Other Business

 

·       The National Fire Plan was discussed.  Most of the information available about it is on the internet. The NPS address is www.fire.nps.gov.

·       The NRCG is looking for Agency Administrators to listen and participate in a problem solving sessions for their next meeting  (Missoula, December 11-12, 2000).  All agencies will canvass their agency administrators for interest.

·       All attendees at this meeting should share their e:mail addresses, physical addresses and telephone numbers with Paul Linse (Plinse@fs.fed.us).

·       Paul Linse will be the chair of the Zone Executive Board for 2001.

·       The next Zone Executive Board meeting will be April 9, 2001.  Location and time will be announced.  If there is a need to meet or conference before then, Paul will set that up.