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Division of Wildland Fire Management

Our Mission

The mission of the Division of Wildland Fire Management is to execute our fiduciary trust responsibility by protecting lives, property, and resources while restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems through cost-effective and creative fire-management programs, collaboration, and promoting Indian self-determination.

2021 Fast Facts

In 2021, there were over 4,600 wildfires that originated on Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) protected lands, resulting in nearly 400,000 acres burned.

In 2021, the Indian Country Wildland Fire Management program encompassed:

  • 1,385 Firefighters and 1,473 administratively determined (hired as needed) firefighters
  • 7 Interagency Hotshot Crews; 4 Tribally-managed and 3 BIA crews.
  • 9 helicopters, 6 single-engine air tankers, 2 single-engine water scoopers and 3 Air Attack Platforms
  • 3 Fire Fleet Centers (located in Eagle Butte, Jicarilla, and Missoula) that provided service to approximately 240 engines of various models and types, including other fire apparatus in support of programs such as Interagency Hotshot Crew, fire helicopters, etc.
  • 40 wildfire prevention programs, including 22 Tribally-managed programs, that serve 1,102 communities.

Who We Serve

To fulfill the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) mission, we acknowledge Indian Country lands are not public property. The land is the source of a Tribe’s spiritual, cultural, emotional and economical sustenance which they and their future generations depend upon for their survival.

In support of the mission, the Division of Wildland Fire Management (DWFM) provides wildland fire protection and ecosystem improvement to federal trust lands held in trust for federally-recognized Tribes and individual Indians. The DWFM’s support is implemented through direct services, cooperative agreements, self-determination and self-governance, where applicable. 

Uniquely, the BIA promotes self-determination and self-governance with federally-recognized Tribes through Public Law 93-638, which allows those Tribes to operate federal programs, such as wildland fire management programs, as their own to meet Tribal and BIA missions.

The BIA cooperates with other federal, state, county, local government, and Tribal governments to ensure the success of wildland fire management for BIA federal trust lands, providing interagency wildland fire assistance, and assisting with federally-declared disasters through emergency support functions.

Services for Tribal Nations include, but are not limited to, protection of federal trust resources, life, property, and infrastructure. Also, services provide ecosystem improvements, wildland firefighter and safety training, firefighter equipment, fuels management and prescribed fire, fire prevention and ecosystem support such as post-wildfire recovery.

In some instances, wildland fire response and protection are not administered by the BIA. In these areas, the Department of the Interior fulfills its trust responsibilities to Indian Country by formal wildland fire protection agreements with state and federal agencies. The State of Alaska’s Native Allotments and ANCSA lands are protected by the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service in accordance with federal policy. Alaska Native allotments, townsites, and villages total over 1.1 million acres.

Regardless of how the program is managed, Tribal members work and are involved with the direct protection and management of their natural and cultural resources.

Services We Provide

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About the Division of Wildland Fire Management

The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Division of Wildland Fire Management (DWFM) is responsible for the development and implementation of policies and standards for all wildland fire management in Indian Country, a total of approximately 69 million acres, through either direct, self-determined or self-governance services.

Headquartered at the National Interagency Fire Center, in Boise, Idaho, the DWFM works with federal agencies, the National Association of State Foresters, Tribal Nations and individual Indians to support the missions of the Department of the Interior, BIA, and the DWFM.

The DWFM administers and supports the BIA wildland fire management trust responsibility for federal trust land, held in trust for federally recognized tribes and individual Indians.

The BIA coordinates wildfire prevention, response, safety, and management for federal trust lands (including tribal and individual Indian trust lands) with staff at several different levels:

  • The Division of Wildland Fire Management, a division of the BIA Central Office.
  • Regional Fire Management Officers and staff at 12 BIA Regional Offices.
    • Field-level support of 34 Tribal government fire management programs.
    • Field-level support of 46 BIA Agency fire management programs with several serving multiple Tribes and individual Indians.

The BIA National Fire Leadership Team, consisting of regional fire management officers and divisional staff, works together to communicate policy and program changes and inform the National Fire Leadership Team members of regional, tribal and agency fire-related needs and concerns.

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