MIFC houses the Northeast Interagency Fire Cache and staff members from the cooperating agencies of the Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS). MIFC services include the following.
Dispatch Coordination Center
Supplies, equipment, personnel and aviation resources are dispatched from MIFC to incidents in Minnesota and nationwide. Often requests for resources need to be balanced between the need for personnel and equipment within Minnesota and out of state activity. In years of high fire incidence in the western states the center coordinates the training and dispatching of emergency personnel, as well as other resources needed such as strike teams of engines from both Wildland fire agencies and rural fire departments.
Wildfire Aviation Management
Air tankers, helicopters, lead planes and small-engine aircraft to haul supplies, personnel and equipment are all part of Minnesota’s aviation resources during a normal fire season. The aviation group at MIFC trains individuals interested in helitac, air attack or air support positions. Days off for contract aircraft, as well as individual contracts, are scheduled and coordinated by air staff.
Fire Behavior Support
During times of high fire incidence, state of the art weather computers and computer mapping equipment help fire behavior personnel predict daily fire behavior and make predictions for future events. The fire behavior support staff at MIFC helps during ongoing incidents and helps agencies plan prescribed burns or weigh parameters for prescribed natural fire. Fire intelligence is sent to agencies via FAX and computer with the use of both agency e-mail and the Internet.
All Risk Emergency Management and Support
When the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) became partners in MNICS, the agencies began to broaden their focus to look at ways they could support all kinds of emergency response in Minnesota. Space was added to the cache area for supplies and equipment that is non-fire oriented (such as sand bags). The intent is to further this support as the agencies look at ways they can expand their working relationships in the future.
The Fire Cache
The Northeast Fire Cache (NEK) is located in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and is jointly operated by the US Forest Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The Cache serves the federal and state agencies in the 20 northeastern states. It is one of eleven caches in the National Incident Support Cache System. Supplies and equipment are shared among the National Incident Support Caches as needed depending on incident activity.
The mission of the NEK is to stock, issue, and refurbish, store and maintain incident support equipment and supplies for the Eastern geographicsal area. It provides equipment and supplies to incidents administered by federal and state agencies and refurbishing and restocking services to Wildland Fire Agencies when determined to be cost effective by the receiving unit.
The Symbols Program
The National Symbols Cache is co-located with the Northeast Interagency Fire Cache. The Symbols Cache is the distribution center for Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl and Fire Education Program materials. Other programs managed by the Cache include the Junior Forest Ranger and Junior Snow Ranger Programs.
The Cache stocks nearly 90 items used for promoting wildland fire prevention, conservation education and general fire education. Shipments are made to all 50 states, Puetro Rico, South Pacific Islands and Canada.
The Symbols Cache also stocks fulfillment items for the Junior Forest Ranger and Junior Snow Ranger Progams and works with the local Occupational Development Center for processing the rquests and distribution.
The Radio Shop
The MIFC radio shop repairs portable radios, programs radio frequencies for incidents and clones radios which are used in the field not just on incidents but in day to day operations. The Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources staff the radio shop with technical experts to maintain and manage a communications program available to MNICS partners. Their services are billed back to the MNICS agencies.
The Training Program
A state of the art training room seats 50 in a classroom style setting. It is used all year long for meetings, but during the winter months it is the main training center for incident command system courses. Agencies in MNICS make out a cooperative training calendar as much as two years in advance based on a personnel needs assessment. In addition, the facility is often used for agency specific training. MIFC also has two smaller conference rooms which can be used for break-out sessions or smaller meetings.
Rural Fire Department Support
Through a government Excess Property Program, and Rural Community Fire Protection Program a variety of supplies and grants are made available to rural fire departments. The equipment, usually from military or other branches of government, is screened and purchased through the excess property program. Fire departments can also purchase needed equipment through the fire cache.