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09/04/2020

Connecticut Sends Second Group of Firefighters This Season to Fight California Wildfires

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Forest Protection Staff have prepared and deployed a second group of trained wildland firefighters to assist the U.S. Forest Service in fighting wildfires in California, following receipt of a request for national wildfire response.

The group of ten firefighters consists of four full-time DEEP employees, one full-time employee from Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management, and five “administratively determined” members, private individuals who are temporary federal hires while on assignment.

The group will be working with the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Hoopa, California on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation.  This area is in northwest California, on the Trinity River, in Humboldt County.  It is located adjacent to the Six Rivers National Forest, and near the Redwood National and State Parks. DEEP staff believe this is the first time a Connecticut Interstate Fire Crew will be working on a Bureau of Indian Affairs assignment.   

There is no specific incident the group is assigned to at this time. The local unit has requested the group help with initial attack, to be the first to respond to new starts, and to keep fires from growing in size. Staff have been informed that this area has experienced a lot of arson fires recently.

The group deployed from Connecticut today. It is the second group Connecticut has sent this season- another group of ten was deployed in late July to assist with wildfire response in the Modoc National Forest area in northeastern California. Two full-time DEEP staff members were part of that group.

DEEP maintains a roster of agency staff members and personnel who have been certified to fight forest or wildfires.  Crew members must complete a rigorous training program and participate in an annual physical work capacity test and refresher training.  

Connecticut maintains this firefighting capability to participate in a reciprocal aid program operated by the U.S. Forest Service.  Under this program, trained personnel from other parts of the nation are available to assist Connecticut in the event of a fire emergency or other natural disaster in return for the support of Connecticut personnel when needed. All state agency expenses directly associated with these deployments are 100% reimbursed to the State by the U.S. Forest Service.

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