Firefighters receive supplies at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. (AP)

Firefighters receive supplies at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. (AP)

A plane drops fire retardant over a wildfire in Twisp, Washington. (AP)

A plane drops fire retardant over a wildfire in Twisp, Washington. (AP)

A firefighter keeps watch over a wildfire in Riverside, California. (AP)

A firefighter keeps watch over a wildfire in Riverside, California. (AP)

A Big Agency for a Big Job

Posted: July 1, 2020

How do wildland firefighters get the supplies they need? Where are those supplies kept? How do smoke jumpers know where they are needed? How do firefighters communicate with one another during a fire? The NIFC is ready to help.

NIFC stands for National Interagency Fire Center. Its main office is in Boise, Idaho. NIFC does not fight fires. But firefighters need it. The job of the Fire Center is to help equip wildland firefighters anywhere in the United States.

There are 16 NIFC caches, or storage places, around the country. One is the Great Basin Cache. It holds about $32 million in supplies. It has medical kits, chainsaws, hoses, vans, and much more. It sends needed items to firefighters in Utah, Nevada, southern Idaho, and western Wyoming. Those supplies are then returned, repaired, and made ready for the next time they are needed.

The agency in charge of sending out all that equipment is the NIFC. It also dispatches planes, tankers, helicopters, and crews—including smoke jumpers. These men and women parachute out of planes to land as close to a fire as they can get. And they do it while wearing 85 pounds of equipment! Jumpers are firefighters. But they must undergo five weeks of tough training for this job. It is so hard that one third to one half of them do not complete training. The United States has 450 smoke jumpers.

Wildland firefighters also need to talk to one another while they fight fires. The Radio Cache has 11,000 handheld radios. These can support 32,000 firefighters at one time. The radios use about 172,000 AA batteries during the busy fire season! Cache workers clean and repair the returned radios once the season is over.

There have been more than 67,000 wildfires per year in the United States in the past 10 years. NIFC and its partners stand ready to help communities across the country fight those fires this year too.

Be ready and keep ready. — Ezekiel 38:7