Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced last Tuesday that a 20-person fire crew has headed to Lolo National Forest, Montana to assist fighting wild fires in the western part of that state. Seventeen members departed early on August 13 with the remaining three assembling that afternoon at DEEP Eastern District Headquarters in Marlborough. The crew, consisting of 20 Connecticut firefighters (14 DEEP employees and six local firefighters), will be deployed for up to two weeks. This is the second time in recent weeks a Connecticut fire crew has been deployed to assist in fighting wild fires – on July 19, a fire crew was dispatched to northern Quebec for 12 days.
DEEP maintains a roster of agency staff members and personnel from local fire departments who have been certified to fight forest or wildfires. Crew members must complete a rigorous training program and participate in an annual renewal course.
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 – in return for personnel from this state being available to assist elsewhere.