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The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fire Management Program is responsible for protecting and restoring lands in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Pacific Islands territories.

Service Participates in Oil Industry Workshop

March 2009

In early December 2008, two U.S. Fish and Wildlife fuels specialists and their counterparts from other federal wildland fire agencies met with oil industry representatives and others to share insight on successfully managing large emergency incidents. Talks focused on in-situ burning (at the site of a spill), which is one option for cleaning up oil spills. As a result, the Service, which has aided the oil companies, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Coast Guard with burning in response to oil spills of the past, and the oil industry were able to develop common terminology and discuss the appropriate methods to be used to speed up the response process for future incidents.

Along with members of the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and National Park Service, Don Kearney from the Southwest Region and Kim Van Hemelryck from the National Fire Management Branch participated in the Inland In-Situ Burn Practitioners Workshop sponsored in Houston, Texas by the American Petroleum Institute. The oil industry, under federal oversight of the EPA or Coast Guard, has responsibility for handling oil spills and clean ups in various forms.

The workshop brought together for the first time field practitioners from federal agencies and The Nature Conservancy, federal trustees, researchers, and industry members to share expertise, define best practices and lessons learned, and develop a forward looking plan to advance in-situ burning policy.

Of specific interest to industry participants is use of the Incident Command System to maintain efficiency and safety in a dynamic setting. Also of interest is the wildland fire risk analysis and decision making process, as well as training procedures used by the land management agencies.

Another outcome of the workshop is that an oil industry may create job aids patterned after the wildland fire community such as the Incident Response Pocket Guide, which contains safety checklists, guidelines, and policy references for use on the fireline.

 

oil spill

An in-situ burn sends a column of smoke into the air at southwest Louisianna's Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in 2002.

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