ALBANY — A crew of 10 wildland firefighters from New York has been dispatched to the West Coast to help fight the wildfires raging in the Rocky Mountains, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday.
The crew from the state Department of Environmental Conservation will help to contain high priority wildfires in the region. They’re expected to support firefighting efforts for two fulls weeks in on of the following western states: California, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska or Kansas.
“Neighbors help neighbors and just as other states have helped New York during its darkest hours, we are here to lend a hand in their time of need,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I thank these brave men and women for stepping up and showing just what New York Tough really means.”
The trained wildland firefighters include a DEC Forest Ranger crew boss and nine other firefighters from the ranks of Forest Rangers and other DEC programs, according to a release from the governor’s office. The crew will receive their assignment upon arriving and joining firefighting crews from other states.
In addition to helping to contain the wildfires and minimize damage in the region, the crew will gain “valuable” experience, which can be utilized for fighting wildfires in New York, a prepared statement from the governor’s office said.
“DEC’s wildland firefighters protect our communities and vital habitat across the state. And for more than 40 years, New York has stood ready to assist other states during manmade and natural disasters. I commend our firefighters and wish for their safe and speedy return,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said.
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.
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.