More than 200 Idaho Department of Lands and Timber Protective Association Employees Deployed on Fires Across the West

Wednesday July 27, 2022

Boise, ID - When the fire season starts out slowly, there is opportunity to provide firefighting staff with training opportunities and experience in the field while assisting our western neighbors.

As of Friday, July 22, Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and Timber Protective Associations (TPA) have sent approximately 221 people off-district to help New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Alaska, California, Washington, Arizona, Montana and Wyoming. Firefighters have also been sent to help the Forest Service and Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho. There were 46 people deployed and on assignment. What is not included in the numbers are the off-district assignments for helitak and red carded firefighters from local fire departments.

“Deploying our firefighters does two things, our firefighters, especially new firefighters, have gained experience and training and are ready for our local fire season,” said State Forester Craig Foss. “It also shows our western partners our commitment to help when they are in need so that they reciprocate in our time of need.”

Idaho Department of Lands pays the wages and expenses for staff, helitak and local firefighters while on off-district assignments. Those wages and expenses are later reimbursed by the jurisdictions and federal government agency responsible for the wildfire protection. The reimbursable amount is currently $2.6 million

“Idaho is proud to help our neighbors fight fires across the West,” said Governor Brad Little. “Assisting on fires outside Idaho builds positive relationships, and it helps take some of the financial burden off Idaho taxpayers because other states and federal agencies pay for the salaries and the experience gained by our deployed firefighters early in the season.”

The legislature supported these efforts during the last legislative session by approving funding for an electronic fire business system. Currently all IDL fire billing is a paper process. When the new system is in place it will all be done electronically. This new system will lead to efficiencies for all parties engaged in wildfire suppression, local, state and federal.

Electronic fire billing systems are being universally adopted across the west because they streamline reporting, invoicing, accounting and cost-sharing. States that have already implemented electronic systems are reimbursed by the federal government in less than one-year rather than the 3 to 5 years it currently takes IDL to be reimbursed. IDL anticipates having the system running by next year.