Governor Carney’s Statement on Delaware’s Wildfire Crew Assisting West Coast States

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Friday released the following statement commending Delaware Forest Service’s wildfire crew prior to the mobilization of the 20-person team that will battle wildfires in the Rocky Mountain region.

“Delaware’s wildfire crew is a group of well-trained volunteers and public servants who will leave the safety and comfort of their homes to travel across the country in an effort to help Western states battle wildfires. I’m confident that the crew will provide much needed assistance to our friends out West, and I am proud of the volunteers and agency personnel who make up the Forest Service’s wildfire crew. Thank you to the crew for your service, and I wish everyone a safe return home.”

The Forest Service’s wildfire crew will depart Saturday on a bus to Harrisburg, and join four teams from the East prior to flying to Colorado on Sunday to begin their 14-day assignment. Volunteers and public agency personnel make up Delaware’s wildfire crew who train in wildland firefighting and are certified by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.


Delaware Forest Service offers volunteer fire grants

Contact: Kyle Hoyd, Delaware Forest Service
(302) 698-4548 or Kyle.Hoyd@delaware.gov

Prescribed Burn_April 29 2015 (61)
PHOTO: A field fire near Townsend, Delaware. (click image for high-resolution version)

DOVER − The Delaware Forest Service (DFS) is offering up to $4,500 in grants to help fire companies in the First State improve their readiness and ability to fight wildfires. The deadline is May 1 and the form is available on-line. Funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program has provided more than 120 grants worth almost $300,000 to Delaware volunteer fire companies over the past 10 years.

This straw bale fire on Fourth of July last year in the Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area illustrates the challenges of fighting a wildfire. The Delaware Forest Service is offering grants to help volunteer fire companies purchase equipment and resources to battle wildfires.
PHOTO: This straw bale fire on Fourth of July last year in the Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area illustrates the challenges of fighting a wildfire. The Delaware Forest Service is offering grants to help volunteer fire companies purchase equipment and resources to battle wildfires.

“Volunteer fire companies are very important to the Delaware Forest Service and the citizens of the First State. They are the invaluable first responders to all types of emergencies, including wildfires in our fields, woods, and marshlands,” said Kyle Hoyd, Assistant State Forester and director of the agency’s Wildland Fire Program. “This grant program can help companies increase their capability to meet this need by matching their spending on specialized wildfire equipment and resources.”

 

Delaware Forest Service veteran wildland firefighter James Dowd holds a fire shovel and a Pulaski tool, used in wildland firefighting. Volunteer fire companies in Delaware can apply for grants to purchase resources to fight wildfires.

PHOTO: Delaware Forest Service veteran wildland firefighter James Dowd holds a fire shovel and a Pulaski tool (see below), commonly used in wildland firefighting. Volunteer fire companies in Delaware can apply for grants to purchase equipment to fight wildfires in their communities. (click image for high-resolution version)

All grants require a 50-50 cost-share match and priority will be given to applicants that have not received funding in the past three years. The VFA grant program has proven to be a cost-effective way to leverage limited federal funding. While grant applicants must provide at least 50 percent cost-share match in cash or in-kind services, many recipients have often provided more – producing an average of $1.61 in matched spending. Funds can be used to pay for specialized equipment to help volunteer firefighters meet the unexpected and often unpredictable threat of wildfires in fields, forests, open spaces, and marshes, which is often distinctly different from structural firefighting.

The Pulaski tool is a combination axe and hoe that is named for famous Forest Service firefighting pioneer Edward Pulaski
The Pulaski tool is a combination axe and hoe named for U.S. Forest Service firefighting pioneer Edward Pulaski

Applications must be received by the Delaware Forest Service, 2320 S. DuPont Highway, Dover, 19901 no later than May 1, 2017.
Please make note of the submission instructions at the bottom of the application.

Funds may not be used to purchase vehicles (trucks/UTV’s/ATV’s) or structural firefighting gear (turnout coats, hardhats, gloves, lights, etc.) Funding is for wildland firefighting hose, safety gear, brush unit pumps/skids, and hand tools. Fire companies with any questions about the application process or what can be purchased can contact Kyle Hoyd at (302) 698-4548 or Kyle.Hoyd@delaware.gov.
In the past fiscal year, the Delaware Forest Service assisted 43 of Delaware’s 60 volunteer fire companies (72%) either through wildfire suppression, loaning of equipment, or training. In addition to the fire assistance grants, the Delaware Forest Service also provides funding to help provide basic wildland firefighting courses for volunteer firefighters. The Delaware Forest Service also works in association with the Delaware State Fire School to help train wildland firefighters.


21st Annual “Fire Camp” set for April 23 at Redden State Forest

1_Fire Camp 2015
Veteran crew members (from left) Jeff Wilson of Clayton and Guy Cooper of Millville supervise a controlled burn as part of wildfire training for the Delaware Forest Service’s “Fire Camp” in 2015. This year’s camp is on Saturday, April 23 at Redden State Forest in Georgetown.

 

The Delaware Forest Service’s 21st Annual Fire Camp will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2016 at Redden State Forest from 6:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. The intensive, one-day seminar is the capstone of the agency’s wildfire training program to certify its emergency firefighters to meet National Wildfire Coordinating Group standards.

In addition to completing an arduous “work capacity test” – which involves carrying a 45-pound pack over a three-mile course in less than 45 minutes – crew members will receive hands-on instruction in several key areas: wildfire suppression, the effect of weather on fire behavior, crew mobilization, water pump and chainsaw usage, and culminating with a “live” controlled burn fire situation.

The Delaware Forest Service's southern regional forester Erich Burkentine of Milton leads crew members through the "live burn" training session at the 2015 "Fire Camp" for new wildland firefighters.
The Delaware Forest Service’s southern regional forester Erich Burkentine of Milton leads crew members through the “live burn” training session at the 2015 “Fire Camp” for new wildland firefighters.

Delaware’s wildfire program has achieved a well-regarded reputation on the national firefighting scene and has dispatched crews almost every summer to fight forest fires in the western United States. In 2015, more than 9.2 million acres burned nationwide, making it one of only four years since 1960 to see more than 9 million acres burn, but still short of the 9.8 million acres burned in 2006. Other years topping the 9 million acre mark were 2007 and 2012. In August of 2015, as the National Preparedness Level hit its maximum of “5” on a five-point scale, Delaware’s crew headed to the West to battle the Fork Complex Fire near Hayfork, California – a blaze that burned more than 36,000 acres in the vicinity of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

For the news media:
This event offers excellent opportunities for journalists to capture photographs and video footage of actual wildland firefighting. Firefighters and instructors will be available for interviews; however, media who plan to capture footage of the live burn are advised to arrive on-site on Saturday, April 23 by 12 noon.

  • Event and Media Contact: Kyle Hoyd, Assistant Forestry Administrator, Delaware Forest Service
    Email: kyle.hoyd@delaware.gov
    (302) 943-7869 (mobile)
    (302) 698-4548 (office)

* The timing and location of the “live burn” is subject to change based on actual weather conditions.

Starting second from left: Doug Rawling of Newark, Nicholas and Christopher Sturm of Hamburg, PA, and Jennifer DeCarlo of Felton construct a hand line as part of firefighting efforts on the Fork Complex, a 36,000-acre group of lightning-caused fires that burned near Hayfork, California last summer.
Starting second from left: Doug Rawling of Newark, Nicholas and Christopher Sturm of Hamburg, PA, and Jennifer DeCarlo of Felton construct a hand line as part of firefighting efforts on the Fork Complex, a 36,000-acre group of lightning-caused fires that burned near Hayfork, California last summer.

 


Delaware Forest Service to conduct 74-acre controlled burn near Frankford

FRANKFORD, Del. – The Delaware Forest Service plans to conduct a prescribed fire on 74 acres west of U.S. Route 113 near the Town of Frankford, Sussex County. The burning could begin as early as Monday, October 27, though officials estimate the date might be closer to mid-week. The actual date of ignition will depend on local weather and fuel conditions. The land is owned by Delaware Wild Lands Inc., a non-profit conservation organization headquartered in Odessa, Delaware. The prescribed fire will be coordinated by the Delaware Forest Service, which will provide key staff and conduct the burn.

Unlike a wildfire, a prescribed fire or “controlled burn” is a fire that is intentionally ignited according to carefully-defined weather conditions identified in a prescribed burn plan. Factors such as fuel type, wind speed and direction, and air temperatures are critical elements of the prescribed fire plan, which is designed to maximize safety and control and to effectively disperse smoke away from human populations. For this project, the acreage in the prescribed burn plan has been broken into six smaller blocks to allow more effective control of the project. Prescribed fires are a useful land management tool that can be effective for habitat restoration, site preparation for reforestation or other land conservation objectives, removal of accumulated fuels that could cause future wildfires, and invasive species management without the use of herbicides.

A Delaware Forest Service firefighter carefully monitors a controlled burn at Cape Henlopen State Park.  The DFS will conduct a prescribed fire on 74 acres west of Frankford beginning as early as next week.
A Delaware Forest Service firefighter carefully monitors a controlled burn at Cape Henlopen State Park. The DFS will conduct a prescribed fire on 74 acres west of Frankford beginning as early as next week.

In the past year, the Delaware Forest Service completed nine prescribed fires on a total of 184 acres, including a 90-acre controlled burn on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. In 2013, Delaware Forest Service staff worked with officials from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Environmental Stewardship Program to conduct a 16-acre prescribed burn at Brandywine Creek State Park. The previous year, the DFS worked with Delaware State Parks officials to conduct a controlled burn at  Cape Henlopen State Park .

It is possible that some residents or visitors to the area may see or smell smoke. People should not be alarmed; the fires will be carefully monitored. Local authorities will be notified prior to burn days and kept informed throughout burning operations.

Contact: Erich T. Burkentine – DFS Southern Regional Forester and Regional Fire Management Officer – 18074 Redden Forest Drive, Georgetown, DE 19947  Office: 302. 856.2893 Cell: 302.233.1994, email: Erich.Burkentine@delaware.gov

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Additional contact: John Petersen, Community Relations Officer, Delaware Forest Service
office: 302.698.4552  cell: 302.233.8180 email: john.petersen@delaware.gov


Delaware Forest Service to hold 19th “Fire Camp” at Redden State Forest on April 26

Delaware Forest Service veteran James Dowd of Townsend keeps a watchful eye on a controlled burn in a field at Blackbird State Forest as part of the agency's annual Fire Camp training session.
Delaware Forest Service veteran James Dowd of Townsend keeps a watchful eye on a controlled burn in a field at Blackbird State Forest as part of last year’s Fire Camp training session.

The Delaware Forest Service will hold its 19th Annual Fire Camp – an intensive one-day seminar to train volunteers in wildland firefighting  – on Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (rain or shine) at Redden State Forest, 18074 E. Redden Road, Georgetown, DE 19947  (Phone: 302-856-2893).

Highlights of Delaware Forest Service’s “Fire Camp”:

  • “Fire Camp” marks the capstone of the Delaware Forest Service’s annual training cycle to ready its wildland firefighters for the upcoming summer fire season.
  • The intensive one-day course serves as a necessary prerequisite for firefighters to achieve yearly “red-card” certification from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) to serve on out-of-state fire assignments
  • Delaware’s crew is a well-regarded unit that has seen regular action battling blazes in the western United States since 1998. In 2013, Delaware dispatched a 20-person crew to an 85,000-acre blaze near North Pole, Alaska as well as a subsequent crew that served a two-week assignment fighting wildfires near Terra, Utah and Riggins, Idaho.
  • The one-day seminar provides potential crew members with hands-on instruction in several key areas: wildfire suppression techniques, the influence of weather on fire behavior, crew mobilization and teamwork, pump and power saw usage, and most importantly, how to apply their experience to a “live” simulated fire situation.
  • In addition to training sessions and the “live” burn, many participants will also be completing an arduous work capacity or “pack test”—which calls for hauling a 45-pound pack over a three-mile course in less than 45 minutes.  Passing this test is a required component of NWCG certification.

    One of the most important skills for a wildland fire crew is "digging line," which involves using hand tools such as a pulaski to create a fire break to contain an advancing fire.
    One of the most important skills for a wildland fire crew is learning to “dig line,” in which hand tools such as a pulaski help create a fire break to contain an advancing fire.

This event often offers compelling visuals of actual wildland firefighting and provides journalists with excellent opportunities to capture photos and other audiovisual recording. Firefighters and instructors will also be available for interviews; however, media members who plan to capture footage of the live burn are advised to arrive at the site on Saturday, April 26 by 12 noon.*

Event Contact: Henry Poole, Assistant Forestry Administrator, Delaware Forest Service
Email: henry.poole@delaware.gov
(302) 943-3593 (cell)
(302) 698-4548 (office)

* The timing and location of the “live burn” is subject to change based on actual weather conditions.