Headed west

Three Ne­wark­ers to help fight wild­fires

Newark Post - - Front Page - POST STAFF RE­PORT

Three Ne­wark­ers are headed west to help fight wild­fires in the Rocky Moun­tain re­gion.

Charles Collins, Adam Keever and Mon­ica Testa are part of a 20-per­son team from the Delaware For­est Ser­vice that left Mon­day for Den­ver. Once they ar­rive, they will be des­ig­nated for a spe­cific as­sign­ment.

Cur­rently, 26 large fires have burned more than 232,000 acres in 12 states. Four new large fires were re­cently re­ported in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida and Wy­oming.

Delaware has been dis­patch­ing a crew al­most ev­ery year since 1998. Fire­fight­ers are a mix of pub­lic agency em­ploy­ees, re­cruits from vol­un­teer fire com­pa­nies and pri­vate cit­i­zens with an in­ter­est in fight­ing wild­fires.

This year, four are from the Delaware For­est Ser­vice, two from DNREC Di­vi­sion of State Parks, one from U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Prime Hook Wildlife Area and one from New Cas­tle County. Six crewmem­bers, in­clud­ing Collins, are rook­ies mark­ing their first as­sign­ment on a wild­fire crew.

Fire­fight­ers must pre­pare both men­tally and phys­i­cally for the an­nual fire sea­son and achieve cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by the Na­tional Wild­fire Co­or­di­nat­ing Group. In ad­di­tion to an­nual train­ing cour­ses held in the spring, crew mem­bers must com­plete a rig­or­ous work-ca­pac­ity test by car­ry­ing 45-pounds over a three-mile course in less than 45 min­utes.

Al­though com­pen­sated by fed­eral funds, all mem­bers vol­un­teer for what could be­come a per­ilous mis­sion.

The Delaware crew will be de­ployed for ap­prox­i­mately two weeks.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ne­wark res­i­dent Charles Collins (cen­ter) joins Christo­pher Riale of New Cas­tle and Bill Sey­bold of Dover in pack­ing fire­fight­ing gear on the bus be­fore the trip out west to fight wild­fires in the Rocky Moun­tain re­gion.

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