The Mid-Atlantic Fire Compact
The Middle-Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact (MAIFFPC) is authorized by public law and is comprised of seven states and associate partners from the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service. The seven states are Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Though Virginia is not one of the 20 states in the U.S. Forest Service’s Eastern Region #9 (Eastern Area Geographic Coordination Center), it is a member of the compact. The primary goals of the compact as listed in its charter are: assist in fire suppression between the states, work together in developing fire prevention programs, and combine resources to promote quality fire suppression training. The compact board meets at least two times each year to set priorities and to plan for the coming years. Funding for the compact comes from a grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry Program. The compact uses the money to plan training sessions, cover costs of fire prevention material, and employ one person to administer the grants. The purpose of the Compact is to promote effective fire prevention and the control of wildfires in the Mid-Atlantic region. Collectively, the states are responsible for protecting more than 35,000,000 acres of woodland. The Compact coordinates the development and integration of forest fire plans, maintenance of adequate fire fighting services by the member states and provides mutual aid in forest fire fighting. Providing supplies and mutual support are cornerstones of the Compact. Each state has a list of equipment they can share with other member states. When forest fires occur near state borders, the states work together to share resources in extinguishing forest fires. Many compact states have sent crews to the west to assist with wildfires. The Compact has an active fire prevention committee consisting of a member from each state. The committee has developed fire prevention material shared by all the states. The committee is continuing to develop and produce new fire prevention materials for use by the general public and the wildland firefighter. Because training is one of the most important objectives of the Compact annual training sessions are held each September. During the last several years, the Compact has sponsored advanced training for the state personnel and volunteer fire departments. The Compact is fortunate to have dedicated and well-trained individuals who serve as training cadres for many of the courses. Safety for the wildland firefighter is stressed in all training. Each member state has an active and aggressive safety program. The executive committee of the Compact members consisting of each state forester or their designated representative attend the annual business meeting, each December. Topics covered at the annual meeting include reviewing state accomplishments, planning for the annual training session, and staffing for out of state fire details. The states within the MAIFFPC are varied in their topography and fuels, as well as the unique fire protection and management organizations that they maintain within their states. The Mid-Atlantic states stretch from sandy plains along the Atlantic Ocean with their fire-adapted vegetation, such as pitch pine, to the hilly and rugged terrain of the interior with hardwood forests. All states exhibit wildland urban interface areas that challenge the state fire managers in providing for the protection of life, property, and natural resources from the threat of wildfire.
In March 1952, an interstate conference on cooperative fire protection was held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, under the auspices of creating a forest fire compact for the Mid-Atlantic States. States within the Mid-Atlantic region passed enabling legislation to enter a compact between 1953 and 1967. The U.S. Congress approved the creation of the Mid-Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact in 1956. The first official meeting was held in 1965 where the first bylaws were developed. In 1969, the U.S. Forest Service officially assigned W.M. Stiteler as a liaison. He served as the first compact coordinator. Ohio joined in 1988, becoming the seventh member. One of the main responsibilities of the compact is to provide for the maintenance of a regional forest fire plan for the member states. Since its creation, the compact has provided a medium to exchange ideas and experiences. It has fostered the idea of “get together,” as described by Maryland state forester A.R. Bond at the 1970 training meeting of the compact. Over the years, one of the highest priorities of the compact has been to serve as a focal point for training firefighters and fire managers among the member states. The first training meeting of the compact was held in 1966 at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. Many training meetings were hosted annually at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, due to its central location for easy travel by all member states. In 2007, the MAIFFPC created an annual Wildfire Academy in partnership with West Virginia University. The Mid Atlantic Wildfire Training Academy was held annually in Morgantown, WV until 2016. In 2018, the academy was moved from Morgantown to McHenry, MD as the Compact entered into a new agreement with Garrett College. The Compact continues to deliver basic and advanced wildland fire management training courses to individuals from across the region and beyond.