The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Forest, Mineral, and Fire Management Division (MDNR-FMFM) assumes overall responsibility for wildfire protection in Michigan. In lower Michigan, most wildfires are surpressed by local fire departments. In northern Michigan, MDNR Fire Management staff are called on to surpress wildfires. The MDNR also provides continuous training to local fire fighters on wildfire behavior and wildfire suppression so that local departments can handle these fires.
When the wildfire exceeds the local department’s physical ability or knowledge of wildfire behavior, the MDNR-FMFM and/or the US Forest Service will be called on to assist. Professional staff of MDNR-FMFM and the US Fire Service have specialized training and equipment to handle larger fires. Because most wildfires in Michigan are small, most fires are contained by local fire departments.
In southern Michigan where populations are larger and more rural homes exist, residents play an important role in reporting wildfires. Rural residents and passers-by with cell phones play an important role in helping fire departments locate and suppress wildfires. In northern Michigan where access to rural areas is limited and fewer people reside, aircraft are used to help spot wildfires. In either location, the earlier the detection and reporting occurs, the more likely it will be that a wildfire can be located and suppressed before it can cause significant damage.