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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
ArlingtonPublic SafetyVa. firefighters headed west to help battle blazes

Va. firefighters headed west to help battle blazes

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As wildfire ravages many areas of the western U.S. and Canada this summer, Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) personnel from across the commonwealth have accepted assignments to assist with fire-suppression efforts.

The department has deployed 39 people to serve as ground forces on fire-line crews or as support staff in fire-management roles throughout the west. VDOF personnel are joining other Virginia firefighters from the USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Virginia is fortunate to have employees at the Virginia Department of Forestry who have both the ability and expertise necessary to provide professional assistance to agencies in the West responsible for fire control efforts,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “Conditions are very physically demanding, but these are some of Virginia’s most experienced wildland firefighters.”

An important part of the process of responding to western states’ need for wildfire-control assistance is the Virginia Interagency Coordination Center, staffed with USDA Forest Service professionals led by Center Manager Carrie Powell.

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“A key component to our agency’s ability to assist states in need is our relationship with the Forest Service Dispatch Center,” said State Forester Rob Farrell. “Through this collaborative effort, our firefighters have made a significant contribution by teaming up with our federal partners.”

The firefighters from Virginia will be fighting blazes in remote locations, under adverse weather conditions. Assignments are normally for a 14-day period, not counting travel.

“These assignments help Department of Forestry firefighters gain experience at the national level, which makes them better prepared to deal with the management of emergency incidents here in the commonwealth,” said John Miller, director of fire and emergency response with the Department of Forestry.

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