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Texas Fire Weather Operating Plan

Appendix 4: National Agreement for Meteorological Services in Support of Agencies with Land Management and Fire Protection Responsibilities

(This document taken from NOAA/NWS Operational Manual Chapter D-6)
I. Introduction

This National Agreement is between the National Weather Service (NWS) and agencies with land management and fire management responsibilities signatory to this agreement. They are referred to in this agreement as "NWS" and "USER AGENCIES," respectively.

The User Agencies are responsible for the maintenance, improvements, and protection of the wild lands, of owned or held in trust by the United States. Accurate and timely weather information is required to manage effectively and efficiently this valuable national resource. The NWS has the expertise, organization, and legal charter to satisfy this need nationally. It is with this knowledge that this Agreement is entered into. Its purpose is to combine resources so as to best serve the needs of the public and to fulfill the obligations of the respective agencies.

II. Authority

This agreement is authorized under the Economy Act (31 U.S.C. 686; 15 U.S.C. 313; 49 U.S.C. 1463) and the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2101), etc.

III. Objectives

The objectives of this Agreement are to identify meteorological services to be provided, establish the interagency relationships, and define financial and other obligations of the NWS and User Agencies.

IV. Responsibilities

  1. National Weather Service
    1. Basic Meteorological services will be provided during normal working hours in accordance with Operating Plans for designated NWS offices to the extent of NWS fire weather resources. NWS regional headquarters will identify to the User Agency headquarters a list of the designated fire weather offices on an annual basis. These services will be made available without cost and may include:
      1. Routine daily fire weather forecasts
      2. Outlooks and discussions
      3. Weather observations
      4. Red flag forecasts
      5. Spot forecasts
      6. Prescribed burn forecasts
      7. Smoke management forecasts and information
      8. Consultation and technical advice
      9. Amendments / updates
    2. Fire Weather Training - The NWS recognizes the need for training in fire weather meteorology for NWS forecasters. To the extent of available resources, the NWS will meet this need.
    3. Special Meteorological Services - These services will be provided by designated NWS offices on a reimbursable basis as stated in Section IV B.
      1. Weather observer training
      2. Weather observation station visitations
      3. Participation in User Agency training activities
        1. Course development carried out at User Agency facilities
        2. Classroom training
      4. On-site meteorological services
      5. Other special services
  2. User Agencies - The following services and resources will be provided by User Agencies:
    1. Fire-management computer systems - Where existing fire management computer systems are locally available, access to the system will be provided.
    2. Fire weather observations
      1. Provide daily surface weather observations and enter data into fire-management computer systems.
      2. Provide all equipment, equipment maintenance, and inspection of weather-observing sites.
      3. Meet all travel and per diem costs associated with User Agencies' requests for visits of NWS personnel to weather-observing sites.
      4. Provide for collection of remote automatic weather systems data and entry into the fire-management computer system.
      5. Provide observations for site-specific and other special forecasts.
    3. On-site meteorological support
      1. Meet costs directly associated with on-site meteorological support by NWS personnel. This includes costs incurred by the backup NWS office.
      2. Provide logistical and weather observation support to NWS personnel at on-site operations.
      3. Provide access to telecommunication services where available.
    4. Training
      1. Meet per diem and travel costs for NWS personnel participating in the conduct of User Agency training.
      2. Provide technical assistance, instruction, and supporting material for NWS-sponsored fire weather training sessions.
    5. Other special services - User Agencies will provide logistics support and meet all overtime, travel, and per diem costs of NWS personnel associated with the provision of all other special services.
  3. Joint Responsibilities - NWS and User Agencies shall prepare an annual Operating Plan for individual fire weather office areas of responsibility. This plan will identify the basic weather services covered under Section IV.
V. Procedures for requesting services

Procedures for ordering services will be specified in Operating Plans for each NWS fire weather office. VI. Billing Procedures

Costs to be recovered from User Agencies will be calculated on the basis of expense reports submitted to the NWS regional headquarters by field personnel. Copies of expense reports will be forwarded to appropriate User Agencies by NWS regional headquarters. This procedure will enable agencies to accurately determine costs to be reimbursed during a given fiscal year. Billing of User Agencies will be accomplished by NWS regional submission of appropriate expense reports to the NOAA Reimbursables Division. Bills will include a statement of service rendered, dates it was provided, and location where provided.

All questions relating to billing procedures, charges, current costs, and individual expense reports should be directed to the appropriate NWS regional contact or the NWS Technical Monitor.

VII. Amendments

Upon written notice, the terms of this Agreement are subject to amendment at any time by mutual agreement of the parties.

The signatory agencies agree to consider expansion of this Agreement to cover areas of mutual concern, e.g., changing technology and improved procedures, as opportunities for such cooperation become available. VIII. Terms of National Agreement

  1. The terms of this Agreement shall become effective upon execution by NWS and any or all User Agencies and shall remain in effect until such times as the Agreement is terminated by mutual agreement. Any agency may withdraw at any time by ninety (90) days written notice to all parties.
  2. This Agreement does not constitute a financial obligation for any party in excess of appropriations authorized by law and administratively allocated for the purposes intended.
IX. Technical Monitor For NWS

Fire Weather Program Manager, W/OM12
NOAA/National Weather Service
1325 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Telephone: (301) 713-1677 ext. 131


Fire Weather Office Operating Plan
A procedural guide which describes the services provided within the area of a fire weather office's responsibility.
Basic Meteorological Services
Basic meteorological services are those state-of-the-science meteorological forecasts, warnings, observations, and statements produced in a designated NWS fire weather office during normal working hours.
Fire Weather Zone or District
A fire weather zone or district is the are of routine service responsibility as defined by the NWS. This area is usually defined by climatological factors, but may be modified somewhat to the administrative boundaries of the User Agencies.
Normal Working Hours
Normal working hours are defined in the Operating Plan, but usually cover 8-hour workdays, Monday through Friday, except during fire season when the normal hours cover 7 days a week.
Prescribed Fire
Prescribed fire is a fire burning in wildland fuels according to a planned prescription and confined within planned boundaries for the purpose of achieving specific objectives of resource management. (Prescribed burning is the practice of prescribed fire use.)
Red Flag
Red flag is a program which highlights the onset of critical weather conditions conducive to extensive wildfire occurrences.
Special Meteorological Services
Meteorological services uniquely required by User Agencies which cannot be provided at a designated NWS fire weather office during normal working hours.
Spot Forecasts
Spot forecasts are site-specific weather forecasts. They are issued upon request of User Agencies for wildfire, prescribed burns, or special projects.
That special service which dedicates a fire weather forecaster to a wildfire, prescribed fire, or special project such that the fire weather forecaster is removed from providing basic services at his/her assigned weather office.

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