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NASF Report

Executive Summary


An Overview of Rural and Volunteer Fire Departments

Issues and Recommended Actions



Appendices – Case Studies

NAPA Report

Title Page



Executive Summary

Enhancing Local Firefighting Capacity

Panel Conclusions and Recommendations




The Changing Role and Needs of Local, Rural, and Volunteer Fire Departments in the Wildland-Urban Interface


Congress—along 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.

·       Ecosystem restoration.

·       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 local benefits.

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 Fire Training.

·       Issue Two: Efficient Interagency Response.

·       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 Suppression Response

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:

·       Healthier watersheds.

·       Healthier communities.

·       Diminished risk and consequences of severe wildland fires.

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