Each year, an average of about 7,500 wildfires burn an average of approximately 1.5 million acres on National Forests and Grasslands. Over the last ten years, just over half (54%) of these wildfires have been caused by humans while the rest (46%) have been ignited by lightning.
The U.S. Forest Service responds to all wildfires detected on National Forests and Grasslands, regardless of how they start. The way that the U.S. Forest Service, and other federal government agencies, responds to wildfires on National Forests and Grasslands is guided by:
- The Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy and guidance for implementation of it.
- Direction in Land Management Plans
- Weather and fuel conditions
- Social and economic considerations
- Availability of wildfire suppression assets (firefighters, engines, aircraft, etc.)
- Other factors
Firefighter and public safety are the U.S. Forest Service’s top priority in wildfire response. The U.S. Forest Service response to all human-caused wildfires is suppression. In certain locations, when conditions are right, the agency response to natural wildfire may be to manage it to reduce fuels and restore ecosystems that benefit from fire.
The U.S. Forest Service is well prepared to respond to wildfires safely and effectively, with more than 10,000 firefighters, 900 engines, and hundreds of aircraft available. Learn more about U.S. Forest Service firefighters, engines, and aircraft here. But the agency can’t – and doesn’t - do it alone. Instead, the U.S. Forest Service works closely with other federal, tribal, state, and local partners throughout the U.S. This means that when wildfires occur on National Forests and Grasslands, other agencies provide firefighters, aircraft, and equipment to help.
When wildfires occur on land under the jurisdiction of other federal, tribal, state, and local agencies, the U.S. Forest Service provides firefighters, aircraft, and equipment to assist.
The fewer human-caused fires there are, the more firefighters, aircraft, and equipment there will be available to respond to fires caused by lightning and other causes that can’t be prevented. Learn what you can do to prevent human-caused fires.