Norm McDonald New Alaska Division of Forestry Wildland Fire Chief
The Alaska Division of Forestry has a new wildland fire chief. Norm McDonald was named the state’s new wildland fire and aviation program manager. He took over the new position effective May 1, succeeding former state wildland fire chief Tom Kurth, who retired in December.
McDonald, who has worked for the Division of Forestry for thirty years, was most recently the fire management officer for the Mat-Su/Southwest Area, based in Palmer.
McDonald began his wildland firefighting career in 1989 as a crew member on the Alaska intern crew. Over the next seventeen seasons, he worked on hand crews, engines, and helitack.
In 2006, McDonald became the fire management officer for the Anchorage/Mat-Su Area, overseeing wildland fire responses and management. McDonald helped develop two permanent state fire crews—the Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew and the Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack Crew—which remain key components of the state’s initial attack resources. McDonald responded to fires throughout Alaska and the Lower 48 as a member of the Alaska Incident Management Team, where he now serves as incident commander.
“Wildland fires are a part of the ecological role with Alaska’s forests, but they can also pose a threat to people, property, infrastructure.” McDonald said. “As an agency, we will continue to do everything we can to protect Alaska and Alaskans from unneeded and unwanted wildfires. Public safety is our number-one priority, we will provide that through aggressive fire response, public education, and sound wildland fire management practices.”
In This Issue
Alaska Problems Require Alaska Solutions
On January 16, a fire destroyed the water plant and washeteria in the southwest Alaska village of Tuluksak. For the village of about 350 people, it was a devastating blow. The water plant was the only source of drinking water in the village, in which the primarily Yup’ik residents lack indoor plumbing and rely on honey buckets, not uncommon in the flat, swampy region.