- Department of Conservation & Recreation
- Department of Fish and Game
Media Contact for DCR and DFG Officials Send Off Second Crew of Wildland Firefighters to Help Battle Quebec Blazes
Ilyse Wolberg, DCR Press Secretary
CARLISLE — Today, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Brian Arrigo and Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner Tom O’Shea sent off 16 state wildland firefighters – 14 from DCR and two from DFG – to Quebec, Canada, to help battle some of the more than 70 wildfires that have continued to burn since the beginning of June.
“These wildfires are continuing to rage, burning millions of acres of land and blowing smoke into Massachusetts that’s polluting our air,” said DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo. “I’m proud that we are sending another crew of well-trained and dedicated firefighters to help our friends and partners in Quebec battle these intense blazes and stop further destruction of forests.”
“Fueled by climate change, wildfires are negatively impacting public health, forest health, carbon sequestration and biodiversity here in Massachusetts and throughout North America,” said DFG Commissioner Tom O’Shea. “We are extremely grateful to the dedicated staff from DCR and DFG who have volunteered for this important and difficult assignment.”
The commissioners joined other officials from their departments this morning to send off the firefighter crew from DCR’s Bureau of Forestry and Fire Control headquarters in Carlisle.
The crew, also known as a “21-person Initial Attack Hand Crew,” will travel to Baie-Comeau, Quebec, where they will be assigned to one of many ongoing fire incidents throughout the eastern part of the province. On their trip to Quebec, the 16 Massachusetts firefighters will be joined by four firefighters from Connecticut and one from Vermont. They will engage in direct fire suppression, working on the fire line for about 14 days – building fire breaks, securing fire perimeters, containing fires, and protecting structures.
The deployment is in response to a request DCR received last week from the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission and the Northeastern Interagency Coordination Center at the White Mountain National Forest in Campden, NH. The Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission is a compact comprised of the six New England states, New York and four eastern Canadian provinces, including Quebec. Massachusetts is one of the original members of the compact, which was formed in 1949 to provide interstate and international wildland fire mutual aid assistance.
This crew follows an 11-member DCR wildland firefighter crew who was deployed to Quebec on June 15 and returned home on Friday, June 30, after strengthening the containment lines around four individual fires, preventing them from growing larger.
Rising temperatures, drier conditions due to years of prolonged droughts, and a lack of rain and snowfall, all caused by climate change, are fueling increased fire activity, making the fire season last longer and its effects more severe. These conditions have made wildfires over the last few years more extreme and active than in the past. Climate change also affects wildlife in forested areas, including an increase in insect activity which affects tree mortality and can create more fuel for fires to feed off. So far this year in Massachusetts, more than 820 wildfires have burned 1,500 acres.
DCR has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission since 1985, to send crews to fight fires in areas of the western and Rocky Mountain states, as well as Alaska, Florida, Virginia, and Quebec.
All firefighters are federally certified, having passed a 40-hour federal wildland firefighting class and physical fitness test.
The responding firefighters are:
Roy J. Liard Jr (Crew Boss), DCR, Millville
Brian Mayer, DCR, West Groton
Benjamin Mazzei, DFG, Pelham
Alex Belote, DCR, Taunton
Brian Johnson, DCR, Rindge, New Hampshire
Joseph Nawrocki, DCR, New Salem
Connor Fleming, DFG, East Wareham
Declan Nash, DCR, Groton
Joshua Denham, DCR, Rochester
Nicole Madden, DCR, Sandwich
Nicholas Burnett, DCR, Rehoboth
Brian Procida, DCR, Brockton
Owen Looby, DCR, Dedham
David Desrochers, DCR, Fall River
Christopher O’Brien, DCR, Hanson
David Jones, DCR, Agawam