My goal today is to educate you about the National Guard wildfire support. The DoD, specifically the Army National Guard, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve have a critical role in supporting local and national civilian firefighting agencies. Basically, the military is a standby wildfire force. They are on call to support other agencies when required.
In the paragraphs below, I want to share some basic facts and information you should know about what the National Guard does to support wildfires.
- The military currently assists with wildfires when needed
- The DoD has been assisting the Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior with wildfires since 1975
- There is an interagency document in place between these organizations to make this possible
- The National Guard is usually requested when civilian and national resources are maxed out
- The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group at the National Interagency Fire Center has the decision and authority to request military support with wildfires
- When wildfire support is requested by this agency, the military will send a liaison officer to the NIFC for coordination
- The military has ground and aerial resources to support wildfires
- The Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS) is used in the C-130 Hercules with Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel
- Military ground support is provided by battalion level units, which normally consist of 500+ personnel (about 25 teams)
- The C-130 Hercules with MAFFS is frequently used to put out wildfires
- The Air National Guard has supported more than 6,500 wildfire missions since 1974
- There are three MAFFS units in the Air National Guard
- There are more than 8,400 airmen in different specialties that support this mission
- Some of the most recent missions include the 2007 California wildfires, the 2011 Texas wildfires, and the 2012 Colorado wildfires
- The Army National Guard uses Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters to battle wildfires
- The Blackhawk is equipped with a 600-gallon water bucket and the Chinook has a 2,000 gallon capacity
- MEDEVAC helicopters have lift capabilities to extract wounded personnel
- The Army firefighter MOS is 12M and the Air Force Firefighter MOS is 3E7X1
The bottom line is that the National Guard has a critical role with wildfires. Although they are not the primary agency to handle these situations, they are always on call and ready to go when needed.
What are your thoughts? If you’ve spent any time in the National Guard fighting wildfires I would love to hear from you. Or, if you have experience on this subject, please share your expertise. Just leave a comment below to share your thoughts.