Changing Role and Needs of Local, Rural, and Volunteer Fire Departments
in the Wildland-Urban Interface
with other elected officials and the leaders of state and federal wildland
fire agencies—should act in a timely manner to carry out the recommendations
outlined in this report.
Our Rural, Volunteer, and Local Fire Responders:
Crucial to Protecting Communities from Wildland Fire
This country’s rural, volunteer, and other local fire departments serve
as the vanguard in protecting our communities from wildland fire—both
before and during a fire incident.
These crucial first responders have the local knowledge and connections
necessary to help homeowners and citizens prepare for wildfire. Their
on-the-ground experience with local landscapes also proves essential in
effectively mounting both initial and extended fire response.
The Implementation Plan for the August 2001 Ten-Year Comprehensive
Strategy for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities and the Environment
aims to reduce wildland fire risks to both communities and to the environment.
The Implementation Plan strives to achieve this goal by encouraging a
long-term approach that integrates:
Prevention and suppression.
Hazardous fuels reduction.
Community assistance from the local level on up.
For this vital Ten-Year Comprehensive Strategy to truly succeed,
each of the four elements (listed above) must be functioning well.
Furthermore, the ability of trained and equipped local forces to operate
safely and effectively in the Wildland-Urban Interface is essential to
building a solid foundation for this long-term strategy. Improving the
preparedness of these community-based resources will strengthen the larger
wildland fire protection and response system as well as provide significant
This Report’s Four Critical Issues
Need Urgent Attention
This report identifies four critical issues that urgently need attention
if local firefighters—particularly rural and volunteer forces—are to operate
as safely and effectively as possible in the Wildland-Urban Interface:
Issue One: Wildland
Issue Two: Efficient
Issue Three: Initial
Attack and Emergency Communications Capability.
Issue Four: Coordinated
Federal and State Assistance.
The corresponding recommendations (outlined in Chapter 3 of this report),
involve tailoring technical and financial assistance to meet the needs
of rural and volunteer fire departments. If implemented, these important
recommended actions will also improve interagency communication and cooperation—both
on the fire line and in non-emergency situations.
Improved Protection and Effective
A public investment in strengthening the preparedness of local firefighting
resources offers a greater immediate return in improved protection and
effective suppression response than any other component of the Ten-Year
Comprehensive Strategy or the National Fire Plan.
Therefore, Congress—along with other
elected officials and the leaders of our state and federal wildland fire
agencies—should act in a timely manner to carry out this report’s recommendations.
In doing so, they will successfully achieve the desired outcomes of both
the Ten-Year Comprehensive Strategy
and the National Fire Plan:
Diminished risk and consequences of
severe wildland fires.