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NPS Essentials: Wildland Fire

Overview

The management of wildland fires has long been at the core of NPS Operations. It is part of the mission of the NPS in general, and the Wildland Fire Program specifically, to protect the lives, property, and resources of the National Park System in a manner that allows for the enjoyment by future generations, while allowing for the natural role of fire on the landscape.

Wildland Fire Program

Committed to safety, science, and stewardship, the Wildland Fire Program plays a role in maintaining and restoring ecosystems. For far too long we only focused on the negative impacts of fire on the landscape. Today, we know much more about the positive effects that fire can have for a variety of ecosystems, and the Wildland Fire Program meets the need for resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities, and safe and effective wildfire response. More information can be found on Inside NPS.

Prescribed Burns

Fire managers, if allowed under a fire management plan at a park, may ignite fires intentionally. Fires that are set for the benefit of the ecosystem are known as prescribed fires or prescribed burns. 

These burns are typically used to restore and maintain natural or cultural landscapes. Prescribed burns also reduce excess buildup of combustible vegetation (known as fuel load) or may be used to remove invasive species, among other management reasons. Additionally, some naturally ignited wildfires may be allowed to burn for the benefit of the resource if certain conditions are met as set forth in a fire management plan.

Wildland Fire Certification

There are a variety of certification levels and positions required for wildland fire response in addition to the position of wildland firefighter. On large fires, the response will require a variety of positions that focus on logistics, communications, administration and operations. You may have the opportunity to participate with proper training and support from your supervisor.

Points to Consider

  • What are some positive impacts that fire can have on NPS resources?
  • Does your position require any level of certification in wildland fire?
  • How does managing fire meet the mission of the National Park Service?

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