This photo shows Tanker 463 parked at the Valentine SEAT base in 2013.This photo was taken at the SEAT Base Manager class offered at the Nebraska Wildland Fire Academy last spring.

Smokey Sez

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Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) is an annual cost-share funding program administered by the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS). Nebraska fire departments with a current cooperative agreement are eligible to receive up to 50 percent of eligible expenses.

     In 2014, NFS received 142 project applications. An interagency committee scored project applications. Almost 65 percent of the applications received were approved, but some were funded at less than 50 percent due to the limited nature of the funding.

     As in years past, the need far outweighs funding available. The total cost of all projects submitted was $983,449. For approved projects:

     - Total costs $607,939

     - Total funds requested $267,486

     - Total approved amount $187,112

     Applicants were notified of their project status in June. Those fire departments receiving awards have until Sept. 15, 2014 to return necessary documentation of purchases.

Bonus Points Available in 2015

     Contingent upon federal funding, VFA will again be available in 2015. Applications are mailed in February with the NFS Fire Protection Program newsletter, The Rural Firefighter. Next year, one change will be made in application scoring. Evaluators will award bonus points to applications from fire departments that are current on monthly wildfire reports for the previous year. So for example, a fire department that has submitted 12 months of wildfire reports to NFS will earn the maximum bonus points available for their application.

     If a department hasn’t reported so far in 2014, it’s easy to go back to the beginning of the year and file reports online. There is also an area to report that there were no wildfires to ensure the application receives bonus reporting points. For additional information contact Don Westover or go to and click the links on the right side of the page

Fire Aviation News

     The Wildfire Control Act of 2013 provided a new tool to assist with initial attack on wildland fires. The law directed the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) to establish, maintain and staff single engine air tanker (SEAT) bases and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to contract for a SEAT and provide retardant. Three bases are currently established and a fourth base is being developed. This new tool doesn’t replace Nebraska’s long-standing aerial applicator program, but it does have a unique request and dispatch process.

     The SEAT will be dispatched through the Great Plains Dispatch Center (GPC) in Rapid City, S.D., but only NEMA can make that call. BEFORE a request for SEAT support is made, some considerations should be made and information gathered.

     1. A SEAT is the appropriate response for a wildfire burning forested lands or grasslands approaching forested land.

     2. Local fire chiefs and incident commanders will first request local aerial applicators prior to requesting a SEAT unless the fire is out of control and burning forested land or running into forested land.

     3. Costs for SEAT requests sent directly to GPC will be the responsibility of the requesting jurisdiction.

     4. The local jurisdiction requesting the SEAT must first gather necessary information listed below, and then call the NEMA Duty Officer at 402-499-1219. The necessary information:

     a. Latitude and longitude for the fire,

     b. Radio frequency to be used for air to ground communications,

     c. Name and location of the individual who will be responsible for air to ground communications and who will direct retardant application.

     5. If this information is not available from the fire scene, deployment of the SEAT will be delayed.

     This information, and a brief form to capture it, is included within the 2014 Emergency Assistance for Wildfire Control guide (the Yellow Book). The publication is available on the NFS website at

     Nebraska’s SEAT went online July 15 for a 60-day contract. Even though the Nebraska fire season has been moderate, long hot summer days can dry fuels quickly. NFS and NEMA recommend that fire departments become familiar with this new tool and the request process.

     Plans also include using 2014 SEAT proficiency flights (when possible) as opportunities for firefighters to train in directing aerial drops. Notification of these opportunities could be short, so please keep your schedules as flexible as possible. Additional information will be released when available.



Blaze Publications, Inc.

Jeff Gargano - Editor
P.O. Box 122
Humboldt, IA 50548
Phone: (515) 604-6400
Fax: (515) 332-1505

News and Advertising: News and advertising deadlines are the 15th of each month for the next month's issue.


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