July 21, 2014
As wildfire activity increases in the Western United States, firefighters from the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) are helping with suppression efforts in Oregon.
Twenty-two VDOF full and part-time employees headed to Oregon this week. Firefighters will be working as part of a wildfire hand crew and incident managers will operate out of a mobile command post.
Officials say large, complex wildfires require more personnel than most states possess to successfully protect the lives and property of people through suppression efforts. Mutual aid is a vital component in the realm of firefighting.
During the last nine years, Virginia wildland firefighters have helped with suppression efforts in Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and California. In 2012, firefighters from 23 states were in Virginia battling seven large wildfires that occurred during Easter week.
“While wildfires do occur in Virginia during summer months, the frequency and intensity are far lower than they are in the spring and fall,” said John Miller, VDOF’s director of resource protection. “As long as we can ensure the safety of Virginia’s citizenry, we will respond to calls for mutual aid. The scarcity of firefighting resources across the nation necessitates our support, and our employees put their lives on the line every day in their mission to protect the lives of others.”
VDOF’s wildland firefighting crew is expected to be deployed for 16 days.
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