Emergency Support Function #4 Firefighting Annex
In PDF format
||Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
||Department of Commerce
||Department of Defense
||Department of the Interior
||Environmental Protection Agency
||Federal Emergency Management Agency
Updated: June 3, 1999
Emergency Support Function (ESF) #4 — Firefighting detects and
suppresses wildland, rural, and urban fires resulting from, or occurring
coincidentally with, a major disaster or emergency requiring Federal response
ESF #4 manages and coordinates firefighting activities, including
the detection and suppression of fires on Federal lands, and provides personnel,
equipment, and supplies in support of State and local agencies involved
in rural and urban firefighting operations.
- Processes and procedures established in the National Interagency Mobilization
Guide will be followed in responding to a major disaster or emergency under
the Federal Response Plan (FRP).
- National support will be accomplished through the National Interagency
Coordination Center (NICC) located at the National Interagency Fire Center
(NIFC) at Boise, ID.
- Coordination with and support of State and local fire suppression organizations
will be accomplished through the State Forester, in cooperation with the
State Fire Marshal, State emergency management agency, or other appropriate
State agency operating under the Incident Command System (ICS).
- Priority will be given to saving lives and protecting property, in that
- The primary agency for this ESF will be the Department of Agriculture
(USDA), Forest Service, at the national level. For operations that
occur in the State of Alaska, operational lead for firefighting response
will be the Department of the Interior (DOI), Bureau of Land Management.
- Disaster Condition
- The management of a large firefighting operation is complex,
often involving thousands of resources and many different agencies and
jurisdictions. Fire resulting from, or independent of but occurring
coincidentally with, a major disaster or emergency may place extraordinary
demands on available resources and logistics support systems.
- A major disaster or emergency may result in many urban, rural, and
wildland fires. The damage potential from fires in urban areas during
and after a major disaster (such as an earthquake) exceeds that of all
other causes. Numerous fires may have the potential to spread rapidly,
cause extensive damage, and pose a serious threat to life and property.
Urban fire departments not incapacitated by an earthquake may be totally
committed to fires in urban areas. Normally available firefighting
resources may be difficult to obtain and utilize because of massive disruption
of communication, transportation, utility, and water systems.
- Planning Assumptions
- Many urban, rural, and wildland fires may result from or occur coincidentally
with an earthquake or as the result of another significant event.
Large, damaging fires may be common.
- At the time of a major disaster or emergency, there may be wildland
fires burning elsewhere in the United States. These fires will draw
upon the same resources (air, crews, overhead, engines, or other tactical
and support resources) that would be needed to support firefighting and
other emergency operations. It must be assumed that some firefighting
resources will become scarce, resulting in the disaster-related firefighting
operations competing for resources through established resource ordering
- Telephone communications may be interrupted, making radio communications
necessary. Early ordering of radio starter systems from NICC is
a high priority.
- Wheeled-vehicle access may be hampered by bridge failures, landslides,
etc., making conventional travel to the fire location extremely difficult
or impossible. Aerial attack by airtankers, helicopters, and smoke
jumpers may be essential in these situations. Helicopter availability
may be scarce, and damage to airports or runways will cause congestion
at usable airports.
- Agencies that commonly support large fire suppression operations, including
the military and General Services Administration (GSA), may receive urgent
requests from non-fire-related agencies for personnel, equipment, and
supplies. Many of the resources commonly available for use in fighting
large wildland fires will be scarce or unavailable.
- Wildland firefighting techniques may have to be applied to rural and
urban fire situations, particularly where water systems are inoperative.
Aerial delivery of fire retardants or water for structural protection
may be essential. In the case of multiple fires, firebreaks may
be cleared and burning-out and backfiring techniques may be used.
- Efficient and effective mutual aid among the various Federal, State,
and local fire suppression agencies requires the use of ICS together with
compatible firefighting equipment and communications.
- Concept of Operations
- ESF #4 will manage and coordinate Federal firefighting activities.
This will be accomplished by mobilizing firefighting resources in support
of State and local wildland, rural, and urban firefighting agencies.
ESF #4 will use established firefighting and support organizations, processes,
and procedures. Responsibility for situation assessment and determination
of resource needs lies primarily with local Incident Commanders in coordination
with the Emergency Response Team (ERT) at the Disaster Field Office (DFO).
- Requests for firefighting assistance and resources will be transmitted
from the DFO to the appropriate Geographic Area Coordination Center.
For resources beyond those available within the geographic area, the requests
will be sent to NICC at Boise, ID. NICC will contact the National
Fire Suppression Liaison Officer in the event of national-level shortages
or unavailability of needed resources.
- Resolution of such shortages will be pursued by
the Emergency Support Team (EST) and, when necessary, by the Catastrophic
Disaster Response Group (CDRG). Actual firefighting operations will
be managed under ICS. Situation and damage assessment information
will be transmitted through established fire suppression intelligence
channels and directly between the national-level and regional-level ESFs
according to ESF #5 — Information and Planning
ESF #4 has a parallel structure at the national and regional
- National-Level Response Support Structure
- The National Director for Fire and Aviation Management, Forest Service,
will represent the USDA on the CDRG.
- National ESF #4 activities will operate under the direction of the
Assistant Director for Operations, Fire and Aviation Management, Forest
Service. Assistance will be provided as necessary by the Forest
Service and DOI Fire Directors at NIFC.
- The Disaster and Emergency Operation Specialist will serve as the
National Fire Suppression Liaison Officer. The National Fire Suppression
Liaison Officer or a representative will be located at Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) Headquarters during a disaster when ESF #4
is activated. This position is a member of the EST and is the
link to the National Director for Fire and Aviation Management at Forest
- The national ESF #4 will provide broad policy and coordination support
to the CDRG and, based on recommended FEMA requirements, may be operational
on a 24-hour basis. Support agencies will have representatives
available by telephone or pager on a 24-hour basis when necessary.
- National logistics support and interregional mobilization of resources
will be provided by NICC.
- Regional-Level Response Structure
Federal firefighting response support is coordinated by the Regional/Area
Fire Coordinator provided by the Forest Service Regional/Area Office.
The Regional/Area Fire Coordinator has responsibility for establishing and
maintaining coordination with the National Fire Suppression Liaison Officer,
Forest Service Region, regional support agencies, and ERT. ESF #4
will be represented by a Fire Suppression Support Coordinator at the DFO.
Regional firefighting response and logistics support will be provided by
Geographic Area Coordination Centers and NICC in accordance with established
Mobilization Guides. Support agencies will have representatives available
by telephone or pager on a 24-hour basis for the duration necessary.
- Upon notification by FEMA of a potential or actual event requiring
response, the National Fire Suppression Liaison Officer, Forest Service,
will notify all other ESF #4 members by telephone or pager.
- The Regional/Area Fire Coordinators and NICC also will be notified
by telephone or pager.
- Response Actions
- Initial Actions
The National Fire Suppression Liaison Officer or representative will:
- Locate at FEMA Headquarters within 2 hours of notification;
- Establish communication links with FEMA, national primary and support
agencies, USDA Emergency Operations Center, National Director for Fire
and Aviation Management at Forest Service Headquarters, and Forest Service
Director at NIFC;
- Establish communication links with the Regional/Area Fire Coordinators;
- Obtain an initial fire situation and damage assessment through established
- Continuing Actions
The National Fire Suppression Liaison Officer or representative will:
- Obtain, maintain, and provide fire situation and damage assessment
information through established intelligence procedures;
- Determine and resolve, as necessary, issues regarding resource shortages
and slow processing, interagency conflicts, and policy matters involving
- Maintain close coordination with the CDRG, support agencies, NICC,
and DFO; and
- Maintain a complete log of actions taken, resource orders, records,
- Primary Agency: Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
- Provide qualified representatives to serve as National Fire Suppression
Liaison Officer, Regional/Area Fire Coordinator, and Fire Suppression
Support Coordinator at the DFO;
- Task support agencies as necessary to accomplish ESF #4 support responsibilities;
- Provide logistics support through the Geographic Area Coordination
Center and/or NICC for mobilizing resources for firefighting;
- Assume full responsibility for suppression of wildfires burning or
threatening National Forest system lands;
- Provide and coordinate firefighting assistance to other Federal land
management, State forestry, and local fire organizations as requested
under the terms of existing agreements and the FRP;
- Arrange for direct liaison with fire chiefs in the designated area
to coordinate requests for firefighting assistance in structural or industrial
fire protection operations; and
- Provide information to ESF #5 as assessments
of fire-caused damages are obtained.
- Support Agencies
- Department of Commerce
- Provide fire/weather forecasting as needed from NIFC at Boise, ID,
or from a nearby National Weather Service Forecast Office under the
terms of existing interagency agreements;
- Provide urban and industrial hazard analysis support through the
Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards
and Technology; and
- Provide fire/weather support under the terms of the National Agreement
for Meteorological Services in Support of Agencies with Land Management
and Fire Protection Responsibilities.
- Department of Defense
- Assume full responsibility for firefighting activities on U.S. military
- Support firefighting operations on nonmilitary lands with personnel,
equipment, and supplies under the terms of the existing interagency
agreement, to include the arrangement of liaisons as required; and
- Provide contracting services through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
to urban and rural firefighting forces to obtain heavy equipment and/or
demolition services as needed to suppress disaster-related fires.
- Department of the Interior
- Assume full responsibility for fighting wildfires burning on lands
within its jurisdiction;
- Assist the Forest Service in managing and coordinating firefighting
- Provide firefighting assistance to other Federal land management
organizations as requested under the terms of existing agreements and
- Environmental Protection Agency
Provide technical assistance and advice in the event of fires involving
- Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Fire Administration
Provide advice and assistance relating to structural firefighting and establish
communications with State Fire Marshals in adjoining States.
- Other Organizations
State forestry organizations in most States are responsible for wildland
firefighting on non-Federal lands. States may assist other States
in firefighting operations and may assist Federal agencies through agreement.
National Interagency Mobilization Guide available from NICC.
- Terms and Definitions
- Fire Suppression Support Coordinator
The person representing ESF #4 at the DFO.
- Incident Command System (ICS)
An on-site incident management system applicable to all types of emergencies.
Includes standard organizational structure, agency qualifications, training
requirements, procedures, and terminology enabling participating agencies
to function together effectively and efficiently.
- National Fire Suppression Liaison Officer
The Disaster and Emergency Operations Specialist, Fire and Aviation Management,
Forest Service. This person is a member of the EST operating at the
national level. Primary responsibility is to provide liaison among the
EST, the National Director of Fire and Aviation Management, Forest Service
Headquarters, and other support agencies.
- National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC)
The organization responsible for coordination of national emergency response
for wildland fire suppression, located at the National Interagency Fire Center
in Boise, ID.
- Regional/Area Fire Coordinator
The person primarily responsible for operation of ESF #4 at the regional level.