The Black Hills National Forest Fire and Aviation program includes three zones (representing the four Ranger Districts of the Forest) with program oversight and leadership provided from the Supervisor’s Office located in Custer, SD. Response to Wildland fires occurs on the Black Hills National Forest 12 months of the year. The primary fire season runs from May through October.
In the last 30 years, the Black Hills NF (BKF) has averaged 99 wildfires per year that have burned 7,902 acres per year. Approximately 75% of fires are lightning caused with the remainder being human caused. Fire return interval ranges from 10-40+ years on the forest; more frequently on the south end of the forest.
The Black Hills National Forest is able to provide 12 Wildland Fire Engines, 1 10-person Initial Attack Crew, 1 20-person Hotshot Crew, one Boxelder Job Corp Handcrew, Black Hills Helitack crew with a Type 3 Helicopter and eight person staff, Rapid City Airtanker Base and Great Plains Dispatch that orchestrates all the orders for local, regional, and national wildland fires.
Strong interagency relationships are a critical part of the overall fire management program. The forest is served by the Great Plains Interagency Dispatch Center, managed by an interagency Board of Directors with each state and federal agency having a representative.
Every fall, Black Hills National Forest fire managers begin to look at weather and fuel conditions for prescribed burning.
Seasonal firefighting positions run May through November with occasional opportunities to work during the winter.
Fire Lookout Towers
There are 7 active & staffed lookouts in the Black Hills & 5 of these are on the Black Hills National Forest.
Interagency Fire School Photos
Every year, future firefighters go through an intensive interagency basic firefighter school to prepare for the summer season.
Homeowner Fire Prevention Guidance
Fire officials say now is the time to take steps to make your home Firewise.
Black Hills Area Fire Restrictions
See current fire restrictions for counties, the National Park Service, BLM, State Park and Forest Service in the Black Hills area.