New faces and changes at MIFC

Mike Rice, AFMO, Chippewa National Forest
Mike Rice, AFMO, Chippewa National Forest

As of March 5, Mike Rice and Ben Roy are the new assistant fire management officers (AFMO) at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC).

Mike will serve as the Chippewa National Forest AFMO. He began his fire and forestry career in 1992 with the Minnesota DNR. He has a degree in wildlife management from the University of Minnesota. Mike worked a variety of public and private sector jobs before joining the Chippewa National Forest (CPF) as an engine captain in 2003.

He resides in Walker, Minnesota with wife, Melanie, and their two high school-aged kids. For years, Mike has had a key role in planning and hosting the annual Wildfire on Ice event each January with proceeds benefiting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Ben Roy, AFMO, Superior National Forest
Ben Roy, AFMO, Superior National Forest

Ben Roy is the new AFMO for the Superior National Forest (SUF) and has 20 years of fire experience, mostly with the CPF-Deer River Ranger district. He is excited to work with MIFC interagency partners and brings diverse skills to the job.

He and wife, Rhonda, have a 16-year-old daughter and two sons, age 14 and 11-years. Hobbies include hunting, fishing, camping and coaching youth basketball.

Dispatch center renamed

Last October, dispatch functions at MIFC were formally integrated into a cohesive interagency organization with centralized leadership. Under the direction of the MNICS Board of Directors, the newly-named Minnesota Interagency Coordination Center (MnCC) has refined the logistics, operations and aviation dispatch functions.

A June 2017 assessment of MNICS partners -both in the field and at MIFC- revealed the need for change. Recommendations from an August 2017 report will be adopted incrementally to reduce redundancy, increase efficiency and improve safety for wildland firefighters on the ground and in the air.

MnCC Manager Rebekah Luedtke will oversee assistant managers: Tasha Woodwick in Logistics; Ryan Kingsley in Operations; and Linda Bruss, assistant center manager, Aviation. Diane Nygaard and Christi Powers remain the intelligence and public information officers.

Minnesota Interagency Coordination Center organizational chart March 2018

While it may take a few years to fully transition, this model aligns with national and regional coordination centers. As MNICS agencies approach the spring wildfire season, MnCC dispatch has adopted an “Our mission is your safety” approach to customer service. Stay tuned for more changes and see the contact information below:

Fire Telephone: 218/327-4558
Night or 24 Hour: 218/327-4558 (duty officer on call)
Fax: 218/327-4528