National Greening Fire Team Quarterly Bulletin - Winter 2019; Volume 1


Message from the Director

Shawna Legarza

As a conservation organization, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) together with other fire-related agencies -- is well positioned to be on the leading edge of efforts to promote ecological resilience and restoration. These considerations must be accounted for throughout our internal business processes and should be modeled in the communities that we serve. USFS Fire & Aviation Management is committed to integrating such principles.

The work of the National Greening Fire Team (GFT) comes at a critical time for fire operations in the agency. As fire intensity increases and the fire season becomes increasingly longer, the value of increasing operational efficiency at incidents and throughout the incident supply chain increases. I encourage each of you to follow the important work of the National GFT and consider how to support their mission.


  • 36% - 46%: The range in waste diversion realized during the 2017-2018 contracted incident recycling pilots.
  • $2.25 per person per day: The cost of contracted recycling on medium-large incidents based on a 1,000-person fire (0.05% of daily fire operating costs!).
  • 10: The number of years the Greening Fire Team is moving the needle towards more sustainable operations.

Contact Us

Interested in learning more about the Greening Fire Team? Have questions about any of the stories in this Bulletin? If so, contact the Greening Fire Team.

Links of Interest


Shelly Pacheco, Regional Safety & Occupational Health Manager, USFS Southwest Region

Where were you when you first encountered on-site incident recycling?

I am a Base Camp Manager and a Facilities Unit Leader Trainee.  As a Base Camp Manager, I work closely with the camp crews to ensure we set up common areas for sleeping, eating and meeting spaces and maintain a clean camp.  As a Facilities Unit Leader, I work on setting up land use agreements for camps, and work closely with vendors for services such as trash, showers, recycling, and potable/non-potable water.

Where were you when you first encountered on-site incident recycling?

Almost every camp I’ve ever worked on we have had some kind of recycling effort. Cardboard, plastic bottles, and used office paper are the most common items. Sometimes a camp crew was managing recycling, other times a contractor has been in place. So far, in my 14 years of working in fire camps, the Klondike Fire in Oregon had the best contractor-managed recycling program operation. I saw the benefits immediately of what a great recycling program could be.

Who Is the National Greening Fire Team?

The Greening Fire Team (GFT) was established in 2011 and is comprised of seasonal and permanent employees from across the nation. Its mission is to integrate sustainable operations best management practices into the fire community. The main focus of the team’s work has been to research, recommend, and assist with implementation of sustainable practices at fire incidents with a focus on camps. Priority areas include: 1) waste reduction, 2) renewable energy, and 3) outreach and education. In March 2017, a partnership between the GFT, previously aligned with the Office of Sustainability and Climate, and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Fire Aviation and Management organization was developed. Since that time, the Team has evolved and refined its deliverables to best align with current priorities.

Contracted On-site Incident Recycling – Making Green Strides!

6.7 – 9 million pounds! That’s the amount of waste estimated to be generated in a single year by incident management teams (IMTs) in just the Southwest Geographic Area Coordination Center (GACC) (based on fires in 2011).

The majority of this waste was most likely sent to community landfills. The Forest Service is required to divert 55% of their non-hazardous waste from landfills (starting in 2014). IMTs have struggled to meet this goal. There is a cost to the communities when the waste is not recycled and is sent to the landfill instead, particularly if the cumulative impact from decades of firefighting camp waste causes the community landfills to reach their maximum capacity prematurely.

 Myth Buster #1 – Recycling on fires is too expensive…or is it?

Is contracted incident recycling more expensive than doing it “in-house”?

From interviewing various incident commanders and logistics chiefs, it was determined that it was reasonable to assume that an in-house incident recycling program would require a 4-person AD-C team, plus AD-D squad boss for squad/camp crew labor, SusOps Tech Management (equivalent of an AD-K), and an estimated 6 hours per day of the Logistics or Facility Unit Leader. 

Based off current wages, the cost of providing in-house recycling services at a fire camp of 1,000 personnel is estimated between roughly $2,400 and $3,900 [1]. The cost to contract on-site incident recycling services is actually lower, at $1,450 to $3,050 per day, or roughly $2.25 per person per day, on a 1,000 personnel fire camp.

Recruiting Interagency Greening Fire Team "Ambassadors"!

The National Greening Fire Team serves an interagency mission, but has largely been comprised of U.S. Forest Service employees to date. We’re eager to onboard “Ambassadors” from inside (and especially outside!) the agency.

What is an “Ambassador”? Glad you asked! “Ambassadors” are not formal Greening Fire Team members, with deliverables, salary funding to cover part of their time, etc. Rather, “Ambassadors” are individuals with a keen interest in advancing sustainable business operations throughout the Fire organization/supply chain. They receive periodic emails (including Quarterly Highlights Bulletins), are invited to Team Update Webinars (1-2 per year), and, when in positions to do so, are asked to apply information/products (e.g., our onsite incident recycling BPA, in process) developed by the Team.

If you are interested in being a Greening Fire “Ambassador” please contact the Greening Fire Team.


  • Team Chairs: Lara Buluç, Dennis Fiore
  • Team Members: Hector Basso, Steve Bigby, Judith Downing, David Haston, Ryan Jackson, Kelly Jaramillo, Dylan McCoy, and Bobbie Jo Skibo
  • Team Ambassadors: Sally Claggett, Matthew Cnudde, Kevin Cooper, Michael “Brent” Davidson, Holly Ennist, Roberta Lim, Kevin Martin, Martin Maricle, Christina Montiel, Kevin Moriarty, Alaina Osimowicz, Michael A. Rivera, Tym Sauter, Tenaya Stanton, James Starling, Nick Swagger, and Jessica White
  • Partner: Alicen Kandt (Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
  • NREL Interagency Agreement Oversight: David Wiley
  • Senior Leadership Liaison: Shawna Legarza

Last modified/reviewed 02-27-2019