In response to increased wildfire activity in the western United States, the Delaware Forest Service dispatched a crew of volunteer wildland firefighters from Blackbird State Forest in Smyrna July 19 that traveled to Redmond, Wash. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho recently upped its National Fire Preparedness Level to 3 on a 5-point scale. However in the Northwest, the regional level is currently at the maximum 5 on a 5-point scale due to the incidence of 17 new fires and 24 large uncontained blazes.
Delaware’s crew is a mixture of veterans and newcomers from public agencies, volunteer fire companies, as well as private citizens who have completed the rigorous training and and are interested in wildland firefighting. Five members of the crew are making their first trip on this assignment. The crew is being led by veteran Samual Topper of the Delaware Forest Service, a regional forester based at Redden State Forest in Georgetown.
Crew members must all hold red-card certification from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, have passed a core set of wildfire training courses at the Delaware State Fire School in Dover, completed “live-burn” fire training at annual Fire Camp, and complete a demanding work capacity or pack test,which involves carrying a 45-pound pack over a three-mile course in less than 45 minutes.
Delaware's crew is expected to serve a 14-day assignment on the fire line (which might include assignment to multiple incidents) with one day of travel to and from their location. Delaware has fielded a wildfire crew to help on out-of-state fires almost every year since 1998.