Season 8 | Wildland Firefighting Professionals | Episode 5

#126 | Interagency cooperation starts before the fire begins

September 26, 2019 | John Miller

John Miller is the State Wildland Fire Chief for the Virginia Department of Forestry. As such, John is responsible for oversight and state-wide coordination of the agency’s wildfire control, emergency management, and prescribed burning programs. After earning his BS in forestry from Virginia Tech, John has been in state forestry for his entire 29-year career in two states, serving in various positions at the state forest, county, regional, and headquarters office levels. He is a Type 2 Incident Commander and has all-risk Incident Management Team experience on more than 31 different Type 1 or Type 2 assignments in 14 different states. In this episode, John shares some tips about coordinating with multiple government agencies, and he shares some close calls he’s had in the field.

Key Takeaways:

[1:15] A message from Leadership Nature.

[1:50] A quick intro about John’s background.

[3:15] How did John first get started in forestry?

[11:55] John explains why controlled burns are necessary for longleaf pine.

[17:10] How did John rise through the ranks and get the position he is in now?

[22:35] What does John enjoy the most about being in wildland fire?

[26:35] There’s a lot of coordination and collaborative work between agencies when it comes to wildland fire, how does it get all done?

[28:55] You’ve got to build connections between people and agencies long before the fire starts.

[29:20] What kinds of job opportunities are available for those that are interested in wildland fire?

[31:50] What types of qualifications do you need?

[34:30] What types of important leadership lessons has John learned along the way?

[37:25] How does leadership change as you transition into different job roles and leadership positions?

[40:50] John shares some memorable stories and a tale of caution about what you need to be aware of when fighting fire.

[47:25] John shares some advice for those who are looking to get started in wildland fire.

[49:45] What is John most proud of in his career?

Mentioned in This Episode:

For more information about the Virgina Department of Forestry, go here.

Read about Southern Region Extension Forestry here.

John Miller (l) briefing former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (r) on wildfire in the Commonwealth




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