Wildland Fire Resources
The authority for coordinating state and local wildland fire protection in North Dakota lies with the State Forester. Under North Dakota Century Code 18-02-07, the State Forester may cooperate and contract with fire departments, local, state, and federal governments, or with individuals to provide wildfire protection for the citizens of North Dakota. This includes applying for, receiving, and expending grants-in-aid, and acquiring fire protection equipment to loan or sell to Rural Fire Departments. Many of these duties are delegated to the Fire Management Program.
The NDSU-North Dakota Forest Service Fire Management Program, along with support of the agency, is comprised of a Fire Management Coordinator, Fire Management Specialist, Fire Planning and Prevention Specialist, and Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) Technician. Emergency firefighters are hired on an as-needed basis to support major fire incidents. The FEPP Technician manages all aspects of the Federal Excess Personal Property Program. Fire Department training and coordination are the primary responsibilities of the Fire Management Specialist. The Fire Planning and Prevention Specialist provides technical assistance to local governments in fire response and mitigation planning, as well as directing statewide wildland fire awareness and prevention efforts. Overall, the Coordinator provides program direction and administration.
Respect the Flame! - Fire Education for Students 12-18 Years Old
The ND Firefighter's Association and the ND Forest Service developed a youth video, website and Facebook page revolving around fire education for students 12-18 years old. The information was sent to all ND schools. Instructors are encouraged to have youth visit the respecttheflame.com website. Caricatures show what can happen if one does not respect the flame. The goals of the program are to entertain, engage, educate, and empower the youth of ND concerning the elements of fire.
A Brief History of Wildfire in North Dakota
Wildfire has always been common and widespread in North Dakota. Travelers, settlers and explorers, including Lewis and Clark, documented huge fires on the horizon, the constant smell and pall of smoke in the air, and miles of blackened prairie. Studies indicate that wildfires occurred in the same locales every three to four years, with larger conflagrations taking place on a 10 to 30 year sequence. Today's wildfires follow similar cycles, with larger fires frequently coinciding with drought years.
Prior to settlement, the majority of fires were started by Native Americans to drive game, provide horses and wildlife with succulent and nutritious new vegetation, conduct warfare against enemies, and protect themselves from attack. Lightning also started many fires. As settlers arrived during the late 1800s, plowing, planting, and grazing gradually broke up the vast grasslands. The occurrence of fire most likely increased, but the size of the wildfires decreased as the landscape became fragmented.Despite the conversion of much of the indigenous prairie to non-native grasses and crops, the majority of the state's fuels are still highly combustible, light fuels that burn readily and rapidly given the right environmental conditions. The western part of the state still contains large unbroken acreage of native mixed grasses. The highly successful Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has enabled North Dakotans to enroll nearly 3 million acres of land in highly flammable native vegetation. Uncontrolled wildfire still remains a threat to North Dakota's people, property, and natural resources.