Sustaining wildfire response capacity, including institutional organization, skilled workforces, facilities, and equipment is critical to both agencies and fire-affected communities. Market conditions affect whether the land management agencies can fulfill their fire suppression procurement needs, which vary considerably season to season. As a major purchaser of fire suppression services, the Forest Service is a market manager. Its contracting processes, technical requirements, and dispatching protocols all structure the market for these goods and services, which in turn influence the business models, and competitiveness of private businesses that provide suppression-related goods and services. Little is known about private contracting businesses, in particular how they navigate the same fundamental challenge: to maintain and grow their businesses that directly depend on unpredictable fire seasons and agency needs.
The purpose of this project is to explore the effects of administration of Forest Service fire suppression contracting on the contracting markets and business capacity, including; (1) how administrative practices influence the contracting market structure, and (2) what business models suppression contractors use to develop and maintain their businesses and meet wildfire suppression needs.
Through case studies, document analysis and conversations with fire experts we are investigating how private businesses are operating as contractors for Forest Service wildfire suppression needs investigating the role of private wildfire suppression contracting on national forests.