When a fire breaks out in the mountain west, the Northern Rockies Interagency Support Cache right here in Missoula can supply everything firefighters need almost at a moment's notice.

Fire Cache Manager Anthony Krause is in charge is what might be termed a firefighter’s supermarket, with over $14 million in inventory.

“We can support up to 30 major incidents, and 5,000 firefighters simultaneously,” said Krause. “Every piece of gear that we issue, we have the capability of fixing, replacing, repairing or recalibrating. We work like a big rental business, so when there’s a fire and any of our cooperators asks for equipment, they place an order and we ship it out to them, and when they’re done with it, we bring it back and we get it back up to 100 percent capability and store it again for the next incident.”

The Montana fire season was mercifully light compared to 2017, but Krause said his shop has sent firefighting gear out across the nation and even around the world.

“We shipped a lot of equipment this year to California and to the northwest,” he said. “We’re an ‘all-hazards’ cache, which means we will help FEMA when they request it. In the past, we’ve shipped out generators, sleeping bags, cots or what have you to take care of a national mission. Since my time, we’ve sent stuff to Indonesia and often to State Department missions, so when we get the order to support something, we do it.”

Krause said in 2017 his fire cache issued over 1,300 miles of hose to help fight wildfires.

Averaged over 10 years, the Cache issued $19.1 million to 208 customers on 1,056 orders for 11,271 items using an inventory valued at $11.9 million.

Krause's main office is at the Interagency Fire Depot near the Smokejumper Center, and taxpaying visitors are always welcome.