Mandate of the NFFPC
The mandate of the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission (NFFPC) is to provide the means for its member states and provinces to cope with fires that might be beyond the capabilities of a single member through information, technology and resource sharing (mutual aid) activities.
Purpose of the NFFPC
Participating members will:
- provide mutual aid among members and establish procedures to facilitate this aid;
- support the development of integrated forest fire plans and the maintenance of appropriate forest fire fighting services by its members; and
- establish a central agency to coordinate the services needed by member states and provinces.
The Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission (commonly called the Northeast Compact) is the pioneer forest fire protection compact in the United States. It was initiated in 1947 and established in 1949 to promote effective prevention and control of forest fires in the Northeastern Region of the United States and adjacent areas in Canada.
The original members were the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York. It became an international compact in 1969 and 1970 with the addition of the Canadian provinces of Québec and New Brunswick, respectively. In 1996, the province of Nova Scotia became a member, as did the combined Green Mountain and White Mountain National Forests, to be recognized by the term U.S. Forest Service and as "associate members."
In 2007, Newfoundland and Labrador (one province) joined the Compact thereby increasing total membership to twelve. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Park Service became associate members as of July 1, 2011. The Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) became an associate member on August 11, 2015.
On August 10, 2016, Prince Edward Island became a full member and the fifth Canadian province to join the Compact.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs joined the Compact as an associate member on August 2, 2018.
The concept of the NFFPC Compact resulted through passage of a law by the United States Congress and by confirmation by the State Legislatures. The Compact area is comprised of 7 states and 5 provinces as full members. The U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. National Park Service, and Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) are associate members. The governing body of the Compact is the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission.
To form the Commission, each state is represented by three (3) commissioners: a state forester, a state legislator and a governor's representative. Each Canadian province also designates three (3) commissioners. Associate members are non-voting, but assign two (2) commissioners for deliberation of issues and help form consensus on major decisions.
An Executive Committee, consisting of a chairman, vice chairman and a professional executive director, provides for Compact administration and coordination on behalf of the commissioners. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service through the Northeast Area State and Private Forestry also provides assistance, grant support, and coordination.
The NFFPC formed member Committees and Working Teams to develop and coordinate joint work plans, provide common training, and to improve and coordinate regional forest protection practices and procedures. Each member agency is represented on each Committee and Working Team. The following groups administer and carry out the Compact's activities:
- Operations Committee (OPs);
- Audit Committee (Audit);
- Equipment and Technology Working Team (ETWT);
- Fire Science Working Team (FSWT);
- Forest Health Working Team (FHWT);
- Prevention and Education Working Team (PEWT);
- Resource Sharing Working Team (RSWT); and
- Training Working Team (TWT)
Training sessions stressing fire organization and management techniques, evaluation, and testing of materials and equipment, and simulated 'call-ups' are conducted periodically to ensure that members are prepared for dealing with major forest fires when they occur. When actual help is needed, members will contact potential providing member agencies and advise the Executive Director.
Any supplies used or equipment destroyed must be replaced by the aided member, which is also responsible for wages and other maintenance costs. Each state and province is required to fund the cost of training, equipping, and maintaining an effective forest fire force to meet the usual conditions in their jurisdiction.
Yet through the Compact, they also have immediate access to the additional resources of other Compact members in cases of severe forest fires. Through this unified, coordinated organization, a full complement of trained personnel and necessary equipment is readily available to meet extreme forest fire situations.