Delaware wildfire team departs for Rocky Mountains

Before departing for the Rocky Mountains region in Colorado, a Delaware wildfire crew is pictured at Blackbird State Forest in Smyrna. Front row, from left, Todd W. Shaffer of Smithsburg, Md.; Samual L. Topper of Federalsburg, Md.; Christopher S. Riale of New Castle; Monica Testa of Newark; Adam N. Keever of Newark; Alexander J. Jenks of Rehoboth Beach; back row, William T. Seybold of Dover; Charles D. Collins of Newark; Todd D. Gsell of Townsend; Nathaniel J. Sommers of Smyrna; Daryl D. Trotman of Milford; Scott A. Veasey of Millsboro; Zachary R. Brown of Harbeson; Spencer F. Valenti of Dover; Bartholomew D. Wilson of Dover; Jeffrey A. Wilson of Clayton; Daniel A. Mihok of Camden; Michael L. Krumrine of Magnolia; Laura K. Yowell of Trappe, Md.; and, Christopher R. Valenti of Dover. (Submitted photo/Delaware Forest Service)

Before departing for the Rocky Mountains region in Colorado, a Delaware wildfire crew is pictured at Blackbird State Forest in Smyrna. Front row, from left, Todd W. Shaffer of Smithsburg, Md.; Samual L. Topper of Federalsburg, Md.; Christopher S. Riale of New Castle; Monica Testa of Newark; Adam N. Keever of Newark; Alexander J. Jenks of Rehoboth Beach; back row, William T. Seybold of Dover; Charles D. Collins of Newark; Todd D. Gsell of Townsend; Nathaniel J. Sommers of Smyrna; Daryl D. Trotman of Milford; Scott A. Veasey of Millsboro; Zachary R. Brown of Harbeson; Spencer F. Valenti of Dover; Bartholomew D. Wilson of Dover; Jeffrey A. Wilson of Clayton; Daniel A. Mihok of Camden; Michael L. Krumrine of Magnolia; Laura K. Yowell of Trappe, Md.; and, Christopher R. Valenti of Dover. (Submitted photo/Delaware Forest Service)

SMYRNA — The Delaware Forest Service has sent a 20-person team of wildland firefighters to the Rocky Mountain region for a scheduled two-week assignment to battle wildfires for the National Interagency Fire Center. The crew departed Blackbird State Forest on Monday morning, headed to Denver, Colorado to be “pre-positioned” for a specific assignment.

The Rocky Mountain Area reported 20 new fires, two new large incidents, and five uncontained large fires on Monday. It currently has one Type 1 incident management team in place along with two Type 2 incident teams. Type 1 is the team that handles the most complex and challenging types of wildfires, including those that pose the greatest threat to lives and property.

Delaware has been dispatching a crew almost every year since 1998. Last year, Delaware sent a team to battle the 36,500-acre Fork Complex Fire in northern California. Firefighters are a mix of public agency employees, recruits from volunteer fire companies, and private citizens with a keen 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 crew members are “rookies” – i.e., 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, the Delaware Forest Service said. In addition to annual training courses held in the spring, crew 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 DFS said. Crews also helped hurricane relief efforts for the FEMA when Hurricane Irene swept through New England.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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