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Thursday, August 8, 2019

BLM’s Rural Fire Readiness Program helps local firefighters across eastern Idaho


BLM’s Rural Fire Readiness Program helps local firefighters across eastern Idaho

The Bureau of Land Management Idaho Falls District has transferred surplus wildland fire engines and equipment to 34 fire programs— including two Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs)—across eastern Idaho. The transfers are part of BLM’s effort to respond to rural wildland fires by giving excess equipment and supplies to local fire departments and RFPAs.

Under BLM’s new Rural Fire Readiness (RFR) program, local fire programs that meet certain requirements may receive at no cost wildland fire engines, pumps, hose, chainsaws, hand tools and other items the BLM no longer needs.

“We appreciate the assistance of our local fire departments and Rangeland Fire Protection Associations in wildland firefighting in eastern Idaho,” said Joel Gosswiller, BLM Fire Management Officer at Idaho Falls District. “The Rural Fire Readiness program allows us the opportunity to augment their response to wildland fires safely and effectively.”

Thirty-one of the 50 cooperators that Idaho Falls District works with have applied to the RFR program so far, receiving four engines, a hundred Nomex pants, 80 brush coats, three Port-a-Tanks, a half-dozen pumps, 150 tools, 29,000 feet of hose and some additional miscellaneous items.

“A lot of departments are surviving on ingenuity to keep their people equipped,” said Kevin Conran, BLM Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist for Idaho Falls District. “They really appreciate the BLM surplus equipment and give it a second life.”

BLM surplus engines have been transferred to Clark County Fire Department, Hamer Fire Department, Central Fire District and Downey Fire Department. The Inkom Fire Department will receive an engine later this year. All of these departments rely on volunteers, responding to multiple structure fires, EMS and wildland fire calls.

“The Rural Fire Readiness program helps both the BLM and Hamer respond to local wildfires,” said Scott Jacobs, Hamer Fire Chief. “This engine upgrades the Hamer Fire Department’s program and we will put it to good use.”

The departments participating in the RFR program have assisted the BLM on several wildland fires over the years, most notably the Grassy Ridge Fire, eastern Idaho’s largest fire in 2018. Hamer and Central used the engines they received to assist in fighting the 122,106 acre Sheep Fire, Idaho National Laboratory’s largest fire in history, this July.

 “We appreciate the Rural Fire Readiness program and how it helps both BLM and Central Fire respond to wildfires,” said Carl Anderson, Central Fire District Chief. “It will also enable us to help our adjacent county fire districts. We will be able to send more trucks to assist our neighbors and local associations that we support.”

So far this year, Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire resources have responded to 48 fires that have burned 122,789 acres. The BLM works closely with other federal and state agencies, local fire departments and RFPAs to respond to wildland fires.








Photo Captions:
Central FD Sheep Fire: Central Fire District uses the BLM surplus engine they received on the 112,106 acre Sheep Fire, the largest in INL history.

Central Fire District Engine Transfer: Left to right: Brian Owens (Central Fire and Idaho State Fire Marshal Office), Jeremy Casterson (BLM Upper Snake Field Manager), Tyler Thompson (Central Fire), Nick White (Central Fire Assistant Fire Chief), Jared Giannini (Central Fire Training and Logistics), Mike Miller (Central Fire Commissioner), Kevin Conran (BLM Fire Mitigation/Education), Carl Anderson (Central Fire Chief), Joel Gosswiller (BLM Idaho Falls District Fire Management Officer).

Clark County Engine Transfer: Left to right: Mary D'Aversa (BLM Idaho Falls District Manager), Troy Stone (Clark County Fire Chief), Greg Shenton (Clark County Commissioner), Macoy Ward (Clark County Commissioner), Jill Egan (Clark County Emergency Management Director), Annette Eddins (Dubois Mayor), Kevin Conran (BLM Idaho Falls District Fire Mitigation & Education Specialist), Joel Gosswiller (BLM Idaho Falls District Fire Management Officer)
Downey Fire Department Engine Transfer: Left to right: Joel Gosswiller (BLM Idaho Falls District Fire Management Officer).

Engine Supplies: When surplus engines are transferred the national standard of equipment or normal unit stocking is kept on the engine.



Hamer Fire Department Engine Transfer: Left to right: Scott Jacobs (Hamer Fire Chief), Joel Gosswiller (BLM Idaho Falls District Fire Management Officer), Joe Slagowski (Hamer Fire Department), Mary D'Aversa (BLM Idaho Falls District Manager), Slagowski brothers (future firefighters) up front



Hose: Some of the 29,000 hose transferred to fire departments across eastern Idaho.



Downey Fire Department Engine Transfer: Left to right: Wyatt Sorensen (future Downey firefighter), Chuck Sorensen (Chairman of the Downey Fire District Board), Chris Sorensen (Downey Fire District Chief), Kevin Conran (BLM Idaho Falls District Fire Mitigation & Education Specialist), Joel Gosswiller (BLM Idaho Falls District Fire Management Officer).