Submission of Innovative Ideas for Product or Process Improvement

ETC header graphic. photo of firefighter with a hose inset in photo of fire. Decorative.

Key Points

  • The Innovation Proposal Form must contain:
    • Innovation Proposal
    • Implementation Narrative
    • Safety Narrative
  • The submission of the Innovation Proposal form may constitute a public disclosure. Please check with the US Patent and Trademark Office for information and timelines (www.uspto.gov).
  • The Equipment Technology Committee (ETC) or the US Forest Service is not responsible for the cost incurred in the preparation of proposals.
  • Materials submitted to ETC through the Innovation Proposal process may not be returned.
  • Funding for further development of a concept or product is not available through the Forest Service National Technology and Development Program.
  • ETC or cooperating agencies might be working on the same or a similar idea already from another individual or organization.

Introduction

This procedure outlines the process for submitting innovative ideas to improve wildland firefighter safety, operating efficiency, and cost reduction.  NWCG encourages the submission of innovative ideas or product proposals (collectively, Innovation Proposal) that will contribute to its mission.  ETC is chartered under NWCG and is responsible to receive and review these proposals as part of the innovation and program lifecycle process.  ETC will review innovative proposals to determine whether the innovation can be practically implemented into wildland fire suppression, prevention, or rehabilitation operations.

Innovative ideas include new technology, significant improvement to existing products or new application of existing technology. Feedback to assist the proponent to develop the concept, idea, or product further will be provided when appropriate. However, this does not imply interest or endorsement of the idea, concept, or product.

Submission of Innovative Proposals

ETC will consider innovation proposals from individuals, organizations, and manufacturers. There are no specific dates for the submission of innovation proposals. Receipt of proposals will be acknowledged via electronic or written communications.

Multiple submissions of an Innovation Proposal to other ETC members or cooperating agency offices are not necessary.  This central receipt point is aware of other areas of interest and tries to ensure that each proposal is sent to potentially interested programs.

The proposals will be reviewed fairly and objectively by subject matter experts available to ETC. The proposer will be notified of the results of the review.

The submission of the proposal form constitutes a public disclosure and may affect the application of a patent. Please refer to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov) for more information. The disclosure of an Idea to ETC does not establish a confidential relationship or obligate ETC and cooperating agencies to treat the idea (or any related materials) as secret or confidential.

What to Submit

The Innovation Proposal is the form intended to persuade ETC, and other qualified members of the scientific and engineering community who review and advise on the proposed work, that the project represents a worthwhile approach to the investigation of an important, timely problem. Each proposal should be self-contained and written with clarity and thoroughness. The Innovation Proposal form, at a minimum, must contain the following items:

  • Innovation Proposal
  • Implementation Narrative
  • Safety Narrative

The Innovation Proposal Form serves as a base document for the proposal.

It is used to assess which program area it is most applicable to. The Innovation Proposal form is below.

An Implementation and Safety narrative, no more than 500 words, should be included to identify the following:

  • Objectives.
  • Implementation. How the proposed idea could be implemented operationally.
  • Safety and training requirements.

Additional documents such as technical drawings, artist sketches, or product brochures should also be submitted. Concepts must be validated by test results and test methods. Prototypes or product samples may be requested later as part of the evaluation process.

ETC is not responsible for the cost incurred in the preparation of proposals. USDA Forest Service and cooperating agency employees must submit proposals through the Fire and Aviation Steering Committee.

Review Process

The Innovation Proposal document package will be reviewed to determine if further evaluation is warranted. The review panel consists of subject matter experts within the Technology & Development Program and other cooperating agencies. The review panel will recommend one of the following:

  1. No further action – The product does not meet agency needs, is not a new product, or application of an existing product, or implementation is beyond the scope of the agency.
  2. Evaluate as part of product lifecycle – The product can be included in a current specification and will be evaluated as part of the lifecycle to improve products covered in that specification.
  3. The product meets a need; however, further development beyond the authority of ETC through this program is needed – The proposal may be referred to Small Business Innovation Research for consideration if the submitter is looking for funding assistance. Funding for further development of a concept or product is not available through the Forest Service National Technology and Development Program.
  4. Submissions are reviewed twice annually.  Cutoff dates are March 15 and September 15.

Submission Form

  • Receipt of proposals will be acknowledged via electronic or written communications.
  • The submission of the Innovation Proposal Form is entirely voluntary.
  • Multiple submissions are not necessary, your proposal will be shared with other cooperating agencies.

 

Due to recent hacking behavior, we are temporarily suspending our ability to upload documents.  If you need to attach additional information, please email the file to BLM_FA_NWCG_Webmaster@blm.gov.

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