- Department of Conservation & Recreation
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration to Send Crew of 20 Wildland Firefighters to Help Battle Blazes in Northwest Region of United States
Olivia Dorrance, Press Secretary
BOSTON — As wildland fires burn across the Northwest and North Rocky Mountain Regions of the Nation, the Baker-Polito Administration is sending a crew of 20 firefighters to West Montana and Northern Idaho to provide their expertise and assistance in the battle against the fires affecting the region. The crew, made up of 14 Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) firefighters, three Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) firefighters, and three municipal firefighters, departed from Hopkinton State Forest Headquarters in the Town of Hopkinton on Saturday, August 14, 2021. The crew will join with 77 other similar crews from federal and state agencies, including the National Park Service, working on active fires burning in the Northern Rockies region.
“I am grateful for the dedicated Massachusetts firefighters who are part of this mission to help residents of the Northwest,” 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 are with those who are impacted by these fires.”
“Uncontrolled wildland fires can have devastating impacts on natural resources, infrastructure, and homes and businesses,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “I am very proud of this heroic team of Massachusetts firefighters coming to the assistance of our fellow Americans in Montana and Idaho, and I wish them well in their efforts to combat these fires and a safe return home.”
“The Commonwealth should be incredibly proud of our firefighters as they answer the call to come to the aid of our fellow Americans who are battling historic wildfires across the West,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Firefighters from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and our municipalities have selflessly joined together to provide services to those states in need, and I am grateful for their bravery and confident they will put their extensive training to good use as they combat these wildfires.”
The specific fire will be determined upon their arrival in the area. There are currently 45 uncontained large fire incidents burning in the Northern Rockies Geographic Area, totaling over 700,000 acres. 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.
“It is an honor to answer the call from the U.S. Forest Service and the Northeastern Interagency Coordination Center. We are incredibly proud of our state and municipal firefighters who have been called upon to assist our friends in the Northwest and Northern Rocky Mountains,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jim Montgomery. “These are extremely well trained and dedicated firefighters whose skills are much needed, and whose help will make a real difference.”
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 116 large fires active fires for 2.5 million acres burning nationally. Most of the activity is in the Northwest, Northern Rockies and Northern California geographic areas,” said DCR Chief Fire Warden Dave Celino. “We have seen unprecedented destructive fire behavior in that area of the country due to extremely dry fuel conditions, continued higher than average temperatures, very low humidity levels.”
The Massachusetts firefighter crew being deployed includes:
State Firefighters: Roy J. Liard Jr. from the Town of Millville; Benjamin Jennell of the Town of West Newbury; George LKleczka of the Town of Plainville; Brian Mayer of the Town of West Gordon; Brian Johnson of the Town of Ashburnham; Joseph Nawrocki of the Town of New Salem; Aaron Best of the Town of Lakeville; Daniel Bove of the City of Worcester; Conor Clancy of the Town of Merrimac; Tyler Desautels of the Town of Oxford; Brian Everett of the Town of Mashpee; Connor Fleming of the Town of Fairhaven; Travis Gross of the Town of Holliston; Jacob O’Donnell of the Town of Millis; Cody Smeaton of the Town of Westport; Andrew Theve of the Town of Northborough; Derick Valovcin of the Town of Holliston.
Municipal Firefighters: Christopher Fischer of the Town of Dracut; Jeffrey M. Belanger of the Town of Greenfield; George L. Nolette of the Town of North Brookfield.