Delaware Fire Crew Headed To Colorado To Fight Wildfires

07_Sam-Topper_Wildfire-Crew-231x300 The Delaware Forest Service is sending a team of 20 wildland firefighters to the Rocky Mountain region for a scheduled two-week assignment to battle wildfires for the National Interagency Fire Center. The crew departed Blackbird State Forest this morning and is headed to Denver, Colorado to be “pre-positioned” for a specific assignment. On July 25, the NIFC’s National Preparedness Level was increased to 3 on a 5-point scale, a reflection of increased fire activity nationwide as well as hot and dry weather conditions across most of the West. Currently, 26 large fires have burned more than 232,000 acres in 12 states. Four new large fires were reported yesterday in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida and Wyoming.

Preparedness Level 3 means that “two (2) or more Geographic Areas are experiencing wildland or prescribed fire activities requiring a major commitment of National Resources. Additional resources are being ordered and mobilized through NICC. Type 1 and 2 Incident Management Teams are committed in two (2) or more Geographic Areas and crew commitment nationally is at 50%.” Currently, the Great Basin Area is at a “4”, theRocky Mountain Area is at “3”, and Southern California is at “3”. The Rocky Mountain Area reported 20 new fires, two new large incidents, and five uncontained large fires. It currently has one Type 1 incident management team in place along with two Type 2 incident teams. Type 1 is the team that handles the most complex and challenging types of wildfires, including those that pose the greatest threat to lives and property.

Delaware has been dispatching a crew almost every year since 1998.  Last year, Delaware sent a team to battle the 36,500-acre Fork Complex Fire in northern California. Firefighters are a mix of public agency employees, recruits from volunteer fire companies, and private citizens with a keen interest in fighting wildfires. This year, four are from t02_Wildfire-Crew-1024x732heDelaware Forest Service, two from DNREC Division of State Parks, one from U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Prime Hook Wildlife Area, and one from New Castle County. Six crew members are “rookies” – i.e., marking their first assignment on a wildfire crew.

Firefighters must prepare both mentally and physically for the annual fire season and achieve certification by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.  In addition to annual training courses held in the spring, crew must complete a rigorous work-capacity test by carrying 45-pounds over a three-mile course in less than 45 minutes. Although compensated by federal funds, all members volunteer for what could become a perilous mission.  Crews also helped hurricane relief efforts for the FEMA when Hurricane Irene swept through New England.

 

Image Credits: Delaware Forest Service

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