NC Fire Program Director

Job Information

  • Location: Durham, North Carolina
  • Close Date: 06/19/2021
  • Hiring Organization: The Nature Conservancy
  • Contact Name: Karin Horn
  • Contact Email:
  • Job Website


The Fire Program Director supports and guides Chapter programs to ensure the scientifically defensible execution of forest restoration and management throughout NC, with the goal of increasing resilience of forest ecosystems in the face of climate change. This position provides oversight and technical support to TNC fire operations in North Carolina, ensuring adherence to the highest for safety and mitigation of risk, while achieving ecological outcomes. The NC burn season is year-round with a peak burn season between January and May, and the program accomplishes an average of 130 burns per year on 38,000 acres. Most burns are conducted in coastal plain longleaf pine systems and pine-oak forests in the Southern Blue Ridge. For most of the annual acreage burned, TNC is assisting partner agencies. TNC staff from across the state may lead or assist with burns in 3-5 locations on the same day, including in neighboring states, and often share crews with state partners. Permanent TNC fire staff are based in 5 locations across the state and an additional 50 seasonal fire staff are hired in support of our programs throughout the year. The Fire Program Director has oversight of fire qualifications and fire implementation but does not have direct supervisory responsibilities.

The Fire Program Director approves Site Fire Management Plans and Prescribed Burn Unit Plans, and modifies or exempts specific fire management requirements as defined in TNC’s Fire Management Manual.  They mentor, evaluate and designates burn bosses, in writing, with notification to the Fire Management Coordinator; certifies task books, including RxB2; conducts or assists with training at local and national levels; and ensures that TNC’s fire guidelines and requirements are met or exceeded. They have the authority to temporarily suspend fire management program operations because of safety concerns or non-compliance with TNC standards. They provide technical and scientific support to fire planners and burn bosses, reviews proposed contracts and staff qualifications for prescribed fire operations and provides input to TNC legal counsel on fire policy. They may teach fire training classes with NC fire partners. They keep current on internal and external developments and trends in the field of wildland fire management and keeps abreast of new burn techniques and equipment to enhance skills and maintain/grow fire credentials of TNC staff. This may include participation in wildland fire suppression activities with external partners. To maintain excellence in their program, they build strong partnerships with public and private partners to further the goals of TNC, and keeps senior leadership in their area informed of fire program activities, needs, risks and accomplishments.

We prefer that this position is based in Durham, North Carolina by early fall 2021.  Because of COVID, initial work may need to be conducted from a home office and in the field.


-Oversees the NC burn program with an average of 130 burns per year on TNC preserves and partner lands.  Within NC there are 5 burn bosses (RXB2 or RXB3), 18 fire-trained regular staff with fire as a component of their job, and 50 seasonal fire staff hired annually by field staff.
-Reviews and approves burn plans, supports day-to-day burn planning and operations, and provides fire personnel training and development.
-Plays a prominent role in facilitating the Southern Blue Ridge Fire Learning Network for TNC, with 8 project areas in the mountains of NC, SC, GA and TN.
-Manages grants, e.g. USFS Region 8 funds that support fire crew modules based in NC, GA and KY/TN.
-Advises TNC supervisors on the performance management, training, and career development of fire staff.
-Represents TNC on the NC Prescribed Fire Council and the NC Fire Environment Committee.
-Builds relationships with external parties and negotiates and administers complex agreements to accomplish program goals. Manages cooperative fire agreements with state and federal partners.
-May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, on difficult and hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances.
-Frequently makes independent decision based on analysis, experience, and context.
-Works closely with program directors, burn bosses, stewardship managers, and scientists to develop strategies to meet conservation and fire management objectives.
-Ensures that fire personnel qualification records are maintained; collects annual updates of information for IQCS and submits to national training office.


-BA/BS degree and 5 years’ experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience.
-2 years’ experience as burn boss (RXB2), and experience with incident review and reporting.
-Training as a TNC Fire Manager, or similar state or federal training.
-Understanding of Fire Danger Ratings and Outlooks and how to apply them to go/no-go decisions and exemption requests for burning.
-Experience managing complex or multiple projects, including staffing, workflows, and finances under deadlines.
-Supervisory experience, including motivating, leading, setting objectives, and managing performance.
-Experience in partnership development with non-profits, community groups and/or government agencies.
-NC Certified Burner or willingness to become certified, including as basic smoke modeler, within a year of hiring.


Salary is dependent on experience.

Application Instructions

To apply to this position, submit resume (required) and cover letter separately using the upload buttons through Applications will be reviewed in the order they’re received and the position will remain open filled.

The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer
Our commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our conservation mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of men and women of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and culture. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character is a priority and we encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military, protected veteran status or other status protected by law.
The successful applicant must meet the requirements of The Nature Conservancy’s background screening process.

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