Thomas Harbour

Thomas HarbourTom is a recognized expert in wildland fire and aviation management policy and operations. He is currently President/CEO of HarbourFire, LLC, a consulting firm offering expertise and advice on wildland fire issues as well as policy and organizational issues. In the years of his work as a noted wildland fire and aviation management consultant, Tom has assisted government agencies and private entities. He has testified to Congress, been quoted in major media, and has had the opportunity to assist the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in work to reduce line of duty death, accident, and injury. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the International Association of Wildland Fire.

He served the longest term to date as the National Fire and Aviation Management Director (National Fire Chief) in the more than hundred-year history of the US Forest Service. The US Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management program employs over 10,000 firefighters, responds to a variety of domestic emergencies (generally fire) and in the last year of his active duty with the agency the program had a budget of nearly $4 billion (US). The US Forest Service program provided both the world’s largest organization of firefighters as well as the world’s largest federal civilian (non-defense) aviation program. Through international relationships, he provided assistance to every region of the world. He effectively dealt with senior elected and governmental leaders in local, state, and federal governments as well as international and American career professionals.

Tom’s first experience with wildfire was firefighting in central California in 1970. Since then, Tom has been energetically and continuously involved in wildland fire and aviation management. Tom has had opportunities to fight, prescribe, and manage wildland fires across the United States and internationally. He has been a Burn Boss (for prescribed/managed wildland fire), an Incident Commander, and an Area Commander (both for wildfires) at the highest levels of complexity. His emergency management experiences have included fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, riots, floods, and other types of disasters (for example, cryptosporidium outbreaks) both domestically and internationally. He was the first National Fire Chief with such an extensive operational background.

Tom has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of California at Davis and in Forest Management from Washington State University. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis and with Presidential Honors for a 4.0 GPA from Washington State University. His post-graduate work includes studies at the JFK School of Government, Harvard University and the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at the University of North Carolina. Tom served with faculty and leaders at the Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia.