Jul. 10—A DEC forest ranger and expert wildland firefighter is being deployed to assist with efforts to contain the Bootleg Fire in the Fremont-Winema region of Oregon. Nearly every year, New York state deploys its highly trained wildland firefighters to help battle fires in western states, according to state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos
"This is DEC's first wildland firefighting deployment after 2020's busy fire season," Seggos said. "As climate change continues to drive wildfires that threaten communities throughout the West, New York State stands ready to assist our fellow states with expertise that our firefighters then bring back home to help with future emergency responses."
The DEC forest ranger will join a crew of federal, state, and local fire agencies battling the Bootleg Fire in Oregon.
In 1979, New York sent its first firefighting crew to assist western states with large wildfires. On average, one or two crews have been sent as needed to assist with wildfires every year since. In addition to helping contain wildfires and minimize damage, these crews gain valuable experience that can be utilized fighting wildfires and managing all-risk incidents in New York.
In 2020, DEC Forest Rangers led four 10-person wildland firefighting crews to western states to aid in the national wildfire suppression effort. Each crew consisted of a forest ranger crew boss, four additional forest rangers and five volunteer DEC employees with wildland firefighter training. Crews were assigned to a firefighting task for two weeks. In addition, several forest rangers were deployed as incident command specialists to various fires throughout the country, including the record fires in California.
All personnel and travel expenses for the New York crews are either paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to New York state based on a mutual aid agreement between states and federal land agencies.