- Department of Conservation & Recreation
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration to Send Crew of 20 Wildland Firefighters to Help Battle Blazes in Northern Rocky Mountain Region
Olivia Dorrance, Press Secretary
BOSTON — With multiple large wildland fires burning across the Northern Rocky Mountain Region of the United States, the Baker-Polito Administration is sending a crew of 20 firefighters to Montana to provide their expertise and assistance with the combating of fires recently ignited within the region. The crew is made up of 12 Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) firefighters, four Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) firefighters, and four municipal firefighters. The 20 firefighters will join with crews from White Mountain National Forest, National Park Service, and the Mid-Atlantic states at a mobilization center in Manchester, New Hampshire before departing to the State of Montana.
“Massachusetts is the home of some of the most talented and well qualified firefighters in our country,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Massachusetts has a long, proud history of national and international cooperation in battling wildfires, and on behalf of the entire Commonwealth, our thoughts and prayers are with those who are impacted by these fires and for the safe travel and return of our firefighters.”
“We are extremely proud of our firefighters’ willingness and dedication to come to the aid of our fellow Americans in need,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Firefighters from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and municipalities have selflessly joined together to provide important services to those states in need, and I am confident they will put their extensive training to good use in battling these wildfires.”
On this assignment, the crews will be initially stationed at Northern Rockies Coordination Center in Great Falls, Montana for assignment to one of the 22 fires currently burning out of control in the area. The crew, which is also referred to as a “Type 2 initial attack hand crew,” will engage in direct fire suppression, working on the fire line up to 14 days – building fire breaks, securing fire perimeters, containing fires, and protecting structures.
“We are incredibly proud of our state and municipal firefighters who have been called upon to assist our friends in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region of the United States,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy. “These are extremely well trained and dedicated firefighters whose skills are much needed, and whose help is enormously appreciated.”
Partnering with the U.S. Forest Service and the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission, DCR’s Bureau of Forest Fire Control has been sending crews since 1985 to fight fires in areas of the western and Rocky Mountain States, Alaska, Florida, Virginia, and Quebec, Canada. All firefighters are federally certified for the work, having passed a 40-hour federal wildland firefighting class and physical fitness test. Through the mutual aid agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, the requesting state or province pays all expenses of the out-of-state crews, including salary, transportation, lodging, and food.
“There are currently 107 active fires burning in the Western United States amounting to 1.6 million acres impacted,” said Dave Celino, Chief Fire Warden for the Department of Conservation and Recreation. “We have seen unprecedented destructive fire behavior in that area of the country due to extremely dry fuel conditions, continued higher than average temperatures, and very low humidity levels, and the experience of our firefighters will truly be a benefit as the containment of these fires is underway.”
Recently, Massachusetts sent a fire crew in July to assist with several lightning caused fires in Quebec, Canada. The Massachusetts firefighter crew being deployed to Montana includes:
State Firefighters: Robert Armstrong from the Town of Conway; Thomas Benoit from the City of Worcester; Aaron Best from the Town of Lakeville; Jesse Caney from the Town of Ayer; Conor Clancy from the Town of Merrimac; Christopher Connors from the Town of Bozrah, Connecticut; Jonathan Hallinan from the Town of Ipswich; Benjamin Jennell from the Town of Newbury; Brian Johnson from the Town of Ashburnham; George Kleczka from the Town of Plainville; Roy Liard from the Town of Millville; Brian Mayer from the Town of West Groton; Benjamin Mazzei from the Town of Pelham; Joseph Nawrocki from the Town of New Salem; Keith Robbins in the Town of Westhampton; and Greg Whittier of the Town of Deerfield.
Municipal Firefighters: Jason Antosz of the Town of Hatfield; Jeffery Bleanger of the City of Greenfield; James Hyatt of the Town of Windsor; and George Nolette of the Town of North Brookfield.