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Fire Management

Fire Responsibility / Authority

Indiana Law mandates our fire responsibilities. Indiana Code 14-23-5-1 states that "The department, acting through the director and the state forester, shall establish and equip a firefighting organization within the Division of Forestry for the purpose of detecting, preventing, fighting and controlling fires on state forest lands." The code goes on to state that "The department may extend the same fire detection, prevention, fighting and control services thus established to other state lands under its supervision and control. The department may also establish such services for lands not owned by the state and not lying within the corporate limits of any city or town for the purposes of protecting the forests, fields, and grasslands of the state." Other sections of the law deal with establishing and training a "volunteer forest firefighting service" and "authority to cooperate with the federal government and to receive benefits, aid and grants."

For more information, contact:

Fire Headquarters
6220 Forest Road
Martinsville, IN 46151
Phone 765-792-4654
FAX: 317-972-3145

Wildland Fire Management

The Division of Forestry assumes Wildland fire responsibilities on approximately 7.328 million acres of forest and associated wildlands. This figure resulted from a study conducted by the U.S. Forest Service in the early 1970s. The acreage breakdown between forest and associated Wildland was partially re-verified by the 1986 statewide forest inventory. When the Fire Warden System was disbanded (the late 1950s or early 1960s) the division reorganized to its current fire staffing structure. Due to our limited staffing and the emergence of stronger rural fire service, Forestry's role regarding Wildland fire has changed. We have become a "support" agency regarding the fire. Today, roughly 95 percent of all Wildland fires in Indiana are suppressed by rural and volunteer fire departments. Our fire programs are thus geared to support an already existing fire service. Through cooperative mutual aid agreements, the division is able to secure fire protection for most DNR properties, as well as other state and federal lands. This constitutes significant savings to the state of Indiana. Funding sources for our fire operations come from the division's operating, preventative maintenance (PM), and construction rehabilitation and repair (CR&R) funds. We also receive federal funding for State Fire Assistance (SFA) formerly Rural Fire Prevention and Control (RFP&C) and Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) formerly the Rural Community Fire Protection (RCFP) grant monies. The Division participates in National Mobility (all-risk management) operations through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Forest Service, State, and Private Forestry.

Fire Mission

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Division of Forestry, Fire Management Program provides organizational, operational, and technical support regarding wildland and prescribed fire management. This support extends to all Division of Forestry lands and may be extended to other DNR-controlled lands and to all lands outside incorporated cities and towns.

Outcomes Include:

  • Life, personal property, and natural resources are protected
  • Rural fire service takes the lead in prevention, pre-suppression, detection, and suppression
  • Continued support with financing, training, equipment, technical transfer, and other services
  • Expanded use of fire as a resources management tool

Fire Management Goals

  • Provide support to rural and volunteer fire departments
  • Wisely utilize fire as a management tool
  • Provide appropriate support for the Division of Forestry relevant to fire
  • Support the department and improve cooperation with other divisions
  • Support all-risk response at the state and national level

Fire History

1905 – The General Assembly passed the first Indiana Fire Laws.
1919 – The various boards, including that of Forestry, were consolidated into the Department of Conservation.
1927 – Power was given to the Division to detect and suppress fires on private land, using money from the Forestry fund.
1929 – The Clark-McNeary Fire Law was approved by the State Legislation and brought in federal funds that could be used for fire suppression.
1931 – Legislature authorized state funding for fire fighting.
1933 – Established the Emergency Conservation Work program and the CCC.
1934 – First coordinated fire prevention programs begin.
1935 – Fire wardens were appointed and the first fire school was held.
1936 – New fire organization within Division of Forestry formed.
1942 – Forest Fire Fighters Service (FFFS) was organized in Indiana.
1943 – Indiana Defense Council helped organize and train volunteer Civilian Defense Forest Fire Fighters during World War II.
1947 – Forestry Fund amended to include fire funding.
1954 – Division is able to procure fire equipment through the Federal Excess Property Program.
1964 – First Fire Coordinator appointed for the Indiana Division of Forestry.
1965 – The Indiana Department of Conservation became the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
1976 – Dispatched the first out-of-state crew to assist with national fire fighting efforts
2019 – Celebration of 75th Anniversary of Smokey Bear and Fire Prevention.


  • Manual of Division of Forestry of the Department of Conservation, State of Indiana, (~1939).
  • Forest Fires in Indiana, an annual publication by the Division of Forestry, Department of Conservation.
  • A History of the Division of Forestry, Indiana Department of Conservation. 1960 by Frosty Miller.
  • Outdoor Indiana issues from January 1935, July 1935, September 1936, February 1937, July 1937, December 1938.
  • Tower Action Plan – Division of Forestry Fire Control, Fall 1962.
  • Annual Report of the Department of Conservation, reports from 1928, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1943, 1957-58.
  • Newspaper archive research was done by Don and Donna McGuire of newspaper accounts from south-central Indiana.
  • Interview with Clarissie Carroll, Georgia tower woman from 1950-1970.
  • Interview with Cornell Kemper, Dubois County Fire Warden 1947-1953.
  • Interview with G.T. Donceel, IDNR Fire Coordinator 1964-1967.
  • Interview with Violet Harrell, wife of Lawrence County Fire Warden Herbert Dale Harrell 1956-1998.
  • Fire Report and fire tower records on the Georgia Fire
  • Mitchell Tribune articles from November 12 and 14, 1964.
  • Forest and Flame in the Bible, U.S. Forest Service publication, 1953.
  • Title 14 of the Indiana Code.

Fire Management, Grants, and Training

Volunteer Fire Assistance (formerly Rural Community Fire Assistance)

  • Federal Grant Program
  • 50% Match
  • Maximum Award $5,000
  • Can be used to purchase fire prevention/education materials, training equipment and supplies, water handling equipment, organization (new departments only), communications equipment, dry hydrants, class "A" foam technology, and safety gear (PASS alarms, SCBAs, turn-out gear)

Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP)

  • Surplus federal equipment is assigned to Rural VFDs with Cooperative Agreement
  • Title of equipment remains with GSA
  • Can include trucks, generators, other large equipment

Department of Defense Firefighter Program

  • Surplus federal equipment can be located and requested by fire department personnel
  • If allocated, requested equipment can be assigned to fire departments
  • Fire departments can gain ownership of most allocated items. This applies to non-sensitive items

Hand tool Program

  • State Program with Cooperative Agreement
  • Supplies cooperating and rural volunteer fire departments with a cache of wildfire hand tools, when available.

Access the Wildfire Resource Portal for Wildland Firefighter Training, Fire Department Grants, and Excess Property.

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