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Susanville Interagency Fire Center Service First
Recognizing the pooling resources is an efficient and effective approach to protecting lives, property and natural resources, the Bureau of Land Management, Lassen National Forest and myriad other agencies have been taking a "Service First" approach for more than three decades through the Susanville Interagency Fire Center.
SIFC, as it is locally known, provides emergency response service to an area covering more than six million acres of public lands, national forests, private lands and rural communities in northeast California and far northwest Nevada. When a fire or other emergency erupts, the center dispatches the closest available firefighters, aircraft and other emergency responders, regardless of agency jurisdiction, greatly improving response times and effectiveness compared to the abilities of any single agency.
The concept came to life in 1974, when the BLM's Susanville District manager and Lassen National Forest supervisor saw the value in combining the two federal agencies' dispatching services. The concept caught on over the years and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's (now known as CAL FIRE) local district and Lassen Volcanic National Park joined. More than 20 local volunteer fire departments have joined as well, along with ambulance services.
SIFC's seamless approach to service is evident in any visit to the state of the art dispatch center in Susanville, Calif. Employees from the BLM, Lassen National Forest and CAL FIRE staff the center, but they've traded their agency uniforms for common-look shirts emblazoned with Susanville Interagency Fire Center. Managers from the three agencies equally share oversight responsibilities, and the agencies all pitch in to provide overhead staffing in periods of high demand.
On a typical year, the center responds to about 9,000 emergency calls in its response area. It also coordinates with other national dispatch centers to provide firefighters and overhead support for incidents and emergencies across the nation.