Western Govs in Dire Need of Federal Resources: from Wildfire Today

Air resources on the Cedar Creek Fire Washington July 29, 2021 InciWeb

This being summer, I’ve built up a few fire stories for posting… but they should lead to different conversations, so I’m going to post them separately. Thanks to Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today for two of these!

First off is this one.. governors’ wildfire requests from the Biden Administration.   I don’t know why this convo only had three of the Western Govs.  The general feeling was a need for more federal resources of all kinds.

I. Initial Attack Policies

Governor Greg Gianforte of Montana was called on first. He spoke briefly, saying that aggressive initial attack was important. “Without that commitment,”Governor Gianforte said,  “we would have had many more large scale fires. And we ask that our federal partners join us in applying this operating principle. Whether it’s a fire that starts on private, state, or federal land — fires are easier to manage when they’re smaller.”

and Governor Gavin Newsome

But here’s the final thing, and it’s the elephant in the room.  I was with Governor Sisolak two days ago in his state of Nevada.  The reason why is we had a fire that was on federal property.  Fifty-seven percent of the forest property in California is federal, just three percent under California jurisdiction.  Three percent.  Fifty-seven percent under U.S. Forest Service.  U.S. Forest Service is spectacular.  We have deep admiration and respect, but there’s a culture that, too often, is, “Wait and see.”  We can’t afford that any longer.  This was a federal fire.  They waited.  And what we saw is the fire took off because we didn’t put enough initial assets.

Greg was making an oblique point here.  I want to be a little bit more explicit: We need your help to change the culture, in terms of the suppression strategies, in this climate, literally and figuratively, to be more aggressive on these federal fires. That fire bled into Nevada and, obviously, impacted not just our two states, but deeply impacted the redundancy of this concern that comes out every year around jurisdictions and incident command and the imperative that we’re all on the same page, in terms of those initial attack strategies.

To TSW readers, especially those on fires, how real is this? Last year the Chief said to be more aggressive due to Covid-induced difficulty with suppression forces.  Is it philosophy, culture, or availability of resources, or ???.  Or are these observations of Governors not widely shared in the fire community?


II.  Airplane Fuel

Governor Inslee

We do have an emerging concern about our fuel supply for our aerial assets.

Governor Newsome

Please pay attention to this fuels issue.  We had to get our National Guard to get some emergency fuel supplies for our aerial fleet a week ago.  This is a major issue, and it’s not just impacting our aerial suppression strategies on the West Coast.  It’s increasingly, as you may know, impacting commercial aviation.  It is a major issue.

I wonder what the supply chain problem is for airplane fuel?

4 thoughts on “Western Govs in Dire Need of Federal Resources: from Wildfire Today”

  1. I was looking at Inciweb for the Tamarack Fire early on, seemed like there was no IMT assigned for quite some time, even though the fire was very aggressive and quite large…


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