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07/24/2020

DEEP and Other Local Firefighters Deploy to Fight California Wildfires

Assistance Requested Through Reciprocal Aid Program Operated by U.S. Forest Service

 

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Forest Protection Staff are preparing a 10-person group of trained wildland firefighters to assist the U.S. Forest Service in fighting wildfires in the western United States, following receipt of a request for national wildfire response this morning.

This group of ten, known as a “module,” will deploy to the Modoc National Forest area in northeastern California. The group includes two DEEP staff members: Western Connecticut Fire Control Officer Amy Burgess, and Justin Wiggins, an Environmental Analyst with DEEP’s Fisheries Division. One crew member is a State of Rhode Island forestry employee. The rest are private sector fire fighters.

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.

The crew assembled at DEEP’s Eastern District Headquarters in Marlborough this afternoon. The crew will be following USDA Forest Service COVID-19 protocols, including pre-screening for COVID-19, and daily COVID-19 screening upon arrival and throughout the assignment. The crew is traveling via rented cars, and the deployment will be for 21-29 days including travel time.

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