Albany, NY - July 25, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today dispatched a 20-person firefighting crew to battle numerous wildfires in the State of Oregon. The crew is comprised of specially-trained State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers, employees and volunteers, who will be assigned to wildfires for 14 days.
“Time and time again, New York’s emergency responders selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public and these brave men and women stand ready to help their fellow Americans in their time of need,” Governor Cuomo said. “Just as New York received assistance from our neighbors in the aftermath of storms Sandy, Irene and Lee, we are glad to be able to return the favor and help first responders in Oregon battle these dangerous wildfires.”
New York’s crew, along with four similar teams from New England states, will support U.S. Forest Service firefighters’ effort to control numerous wildfires in Oregon. They will be assigned to wildfires for 14 days.
“DEC forest rangers, employees and volunteers undergo rigorous training so they are prepared to help protect the public at moment’s notice both here in New York State and across the country,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “DEC is proud to have such courageous men and women among its ranks.”
There are extensive training requirements for national firefighting. A basic federal wildland firefighter must go through 44 hours of classroom and field training and pass an annual health and physical capability screening. The New York State contingent’s crew boss is required to have more than 100 hours of classroom training and years of experience including a minimum of two-three national assignments. In addition, the three New York squad bosses are each required to have at least two national fire experiences with 50 additional hours of classroom training. Each squad has a sawyer with more than 40 hours of training and the ability to safely cut down large trees. Each state crew can only consist of six firefighters that are supporting a federal effort for the first time; New York’s crew includes six new DEC Forest Rangers, both male and female.
New York first sent a firefighting crew to assist western states in fighting large wildfires in 1979, and, on average, one or two crews have been sent to assist each year. In addition, to helping contain the western wildfires and minimize damage, these crews also gain valuable experience that can be utilized in fighting wildfires in New York. All personnel travel and administrative costs for the crew will be paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to New York State.