Three Newarkers to help fight wildfires
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.
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.