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
Supports tactical and logistical
Coordination Center is a model of cooperative management among
agencies dispatching resources across geographic and agency boundaries
to specific incidents.
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
Hot Shot Crew, Helitack Crew, Engines and Lookouts.
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
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
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
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.