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Discover the Fire Center

Prescott Fire Center

USDA Forest Service
Prescott National Forest
Prescott Fire Center
2400 Melville Rd.
Prescott AZ 86301

(928) 777-5610
(928) 443-8001 TTY

In the Southwest, an important line of defense against a major wildfire, a natural disaster, or emergency incident is the Prescott Fire Center and Henry Y. H. Kim Aviation Facility.  The Center is located on the outskirts of Prescott, Arizona, at Ernest A. Love Field, Prescott's airport.  Here, a highly trained, professional staff coordinates, supports, and assists in the management of interagency, multiagency, and international services deployed to major emergencies such as earthquakes, floods, and wildland fires.

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To carry out its role in the national emergency response system, this Center combines an Aviation Program, a Zone Incident Coordination and Communication Center (Central West Zone), a National Emergency Incident Supply Center (called the Fire Cache), an Interagency Hotshot Crew, a Helitack Crew, an Air Tanker Base, and a Fire and Emergency Incident Training Program. It is also home to Prescott National Forest's fire operations staff and engines. In addition, the forest lookouts are supervised from this location.

With its aviation, communications and coordination capabilities, the Center can dispatch aircraft, supplies, equipment, and crews to assist with emergency incidents in the United States and around the world.

Supports tactical and logistical aircraft missions.

The Coordination Center is a model of cooperative management among agencies dispatching resources across geographic and agency boundaries to specific incidents.

National, state and local agencies send their personnel here for comprehensive emergency incident management and support training. The curricula focus on emergency incident tactics and logistics and aviation operations. Classes cover everything from air tanker loading to helicopter rappelling. National experts often teach at the Center.

One of eleven national emergency incident supply centers, the Fire Cache stores enough emergency supplies and equipment to handle the needs of over 2,500 personnel. Firefighting and other emergency materials, such as shovels, firefighting clothing and food, are maintained in a 20,000 square foot area. Cache employees assemble and distribute supplies as needed. As materials are returned from the field, they are checked, cleaned, repaired, recycled or replaced, in preparation for the next incident.


Hot Shot Crew, Helitack Crew, Engines and Lookouts.

Hotshot Crew
The Prescott Hotshot Crew is a highly skilled, initial attack team for front line fire suppression of wildland fires. Members are in top physical condition and have intensive training in fire suppression and fuels management. The Crew consists of a full-time superintendent, two foremen, two squad leaders, three lead crew members, and 12 seasonal employees trained in firefighting techniques, fire safety, and equipment use. Emergency medical technicians are part of this hotshot crew.

Helitack Crew
First-response fire suppression is provided by the Helitack Crew. They can rappel into the site of wildfires or medical emergencies when the site is inaccessible for a helicopter landing. In addition, members assist with safety training for helicopter operations.

Initial response fire suppression is provided by the engine crews. The engine modules are staffed with three to six personnel and carry 200 to 600 gallons of water. They are employed during initial attack on wildland fires and provide water support on extended attack fires.

The engine crews also assist municipal fire departments in suppression of fires within the wildland/urban interface.

Forest lookouts perform an essential role in the prevention and management of wildland fires. They are the forest's first line of defense.

Their primary duty is to constantly scan the portion of the forest viewed from their lofty perches high on mountain tops. When smoke is observed, lookouts must be able to differentiate whether it is from some safe source or from a wildfire. Other atmospheric occurrences such as dust, fog and clouds may sometimes resemble smoke and the lookouts are trained to make this distinction.

If the smoke is from a wildfire, the lookout uses a firefinder instrument to locate the fire on a map of the area. A lookout must be able to use his or her knowledge of the local topography and geography and relate it to the map..

The location of the fire is then relayed to the forest dispatcher, usually by radio, along with other pertinent information, such as estimated size of the fire, vegetation type, wind direction and speed, color and character of the smoke, and any other information that may be relevant.

If the fire is visible to more than one lookout, its exact location can be found by intersecting the line-of-sight from the different location.

Lookouts also collect and record weather data for use in weather forecasting. They serve as radio relay for other public services such as law enforcement and emergency medical services. Lookout towers are open to the public as long as the lookout is not involved in an on-going wildland fire emergency situation.

The Prescott National Forest currently maintains and staffs six lookout towers. They are located at strategic points throughout the forest; Hyde Mountain to the north, Mingus Mountain to the west, Horsethief and Towers Mountains to the south and Spruce Mountain and Mount Union, which are centrally located.

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