Delaware Forest Service sends wildfire crew to Montana

Delaware wildfire crew Northern Rockies
Delaware wildfire crew: Front row (from left) Michael Valenti of Dover, Mark Kammer of Magnolia, Rocco Hladney of Middletown, Eddie Boyer of Ellendale, Christian Mihok of Magnolia, James Charney of Felton, Kevin Popowich of Pennsylvania, Mike Krumrine of Felton, Zachary Brown of Harbeson, Dan Mihok of Vermont, Blake Moore of Milford, and Todd Shaffer of Maryland. Back row (from left) Robert Young of Townsend, Robert Terry of Magnolia, Kurt Bryson of Wilmington, Robert Robles of Dover, Ryan Krammes of Newark, Jeff Wilson of Clayton, Scott Veasey of Millsboro, and Tyler Thompson of Smyrna.

 

SMYRNA – The Delaware Forest Service is sending a crew of 20 wildland firefighters to the Northern Rockies to help battle wildfires in the West as the National Fire Preparedness Level is now at the maximum of 5 on a 5-point scale. The team is flying from Harrisburg to Missoula, Montana (MSO) on Sunday, August 5.

Delaware wildfire crew briefing
James Charney of Felton (at right) gives a squad briefing to Delaware wildfire crew members (from left) Mark Kammer of Magnolia, Robert Robles of Dover, Robert Terry of Magnolia, and Rocco Hladney of Middletown.

 

Delaware wildfire crew Mike Valenti
From left, Todd Shaffer listens to crew boss Mike Valenti of Dover, Delaware’s state forester, as Kevin Popowich looks on. Delaware’s wildfire crew mobilized at Blackbird State Forest yesterday and is headed to Montana.

With large fires burning in Califormia, Oregon, and other western states, skilled firefighting resources are in demand. A National PL of 5 means that “national mobilization is heavily committed… active geographic areas must take emergency measures to sustain incident operations… and potential for emerging significant wildland fires is high.” Nationwide, 134 active incidents are burning 1.56 million acres. A total of 587 wildfire crews and 28,994 personnel were currently committed to firefighting operations as of August 5.
Photos can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DelForestService.

Mike Krumrine Delaware wildfire crew
Veteran firefighter Mike Krumrine of Felton packs his gear at Blackbird State Forest for the trip out West with the Delaware wildfire crew.

Delaware also has a Type 6 engine currently committed to the Ferguson Fire in California.

This is Delaware’s second wildfire crew of 2018. The first departed July 3 for the Rocky Mountains.

Since 1996, the DDA Forest Service has trained over 600 volunteer firefighters to be part of the 20-person crews it deploys on out-of-state wildfire assignments. Delaware firefighters have traveled to fires in many states: Alaska, California, Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. The First State has also sent personnel to aid in national or regional emergencies, such as hurricane relief efforts in Florida in 2004 and New York in 2011. Trained and dispatched by the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, wildfire crews are comprised of men and women of varying ages and backgrounds who represent a mix of public agencies, nonprofit groups, volunteer fire companies, and private citizens.

Despite its small size, Delaware has earned an outstanding reputation on the national firefighting scene.


Delaware wildfire crew headed to Rocky Mountains

SMYRNA, Del. (July 25, 2016) – The Delaware Forest Service is sending a team of 20 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 this morning and is headed to Denver, Colorado to be “pre-positioned” for a specific assignment. On July 25, the NIFC’s National Preparedness Level was increased to 3 on a 5-point scale, a reflection of increased fire activity nationwide as well as hot and dry weather conditions across most of the West. Currently, 26 large fires have burned more than 232,000 acres in 12 states. Four new large fires were reported yesterday in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida and Wyoming.

Delaware wildfire crew at Blackbird State Forest: 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: (from left) 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.
Delaware wildfire crew at Blackbird State Forest: 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: (from left) 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.

 

Preparedness Level 3 means that “two (2) or more Geographic Areas are experiencing wildland or prescribed fire activities requiring a major commitment of National Resources. Additional resources are being ordered and mobilized through NICC. Type 1 and 2 Incident Management Teams are committed in two (2) or more Geographic Areas and crew commitment nationally is at 50%.” Currently, the Great Basin Area is at a “4”, the Rocky Mountain Area is at “3”, and Southern California is at “3”. The Rocky Mountain Area reported 20 new fires, two new large incidents, and five uncontained large fires. 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.

 

From left, Spencer Valenti of Dover, Daryl Trotman of Milford, Zachary Brown of Harbeson load their gear on the bus before departing on the crew's trip to Denver to fight wildfires in the West.
From left, Spencer Valenti of Dover, Daryl Trotman of Milford, and Zachary Brown of Harbeson load their gear on the bus before departing on the crew’s trip to Denver to fight wildfires in the West.

 

From left, Christopher Riale of New Castle, Charles Collins of Newark, and Bill Seybold of Dover pack their firefighting gear on the bus before the trip out West to fight wildfires in the Rocky Mountain region.
From left, Christopher Riale of New Castle, Charles Collins of Newark, and Bill Seybold of Dover pack their firefighting gear on the bus before the trip out West to fight wildfires in the Rocky Mountain region.

 

From left, Todd Shaffer briefs firefighters Scott Veasey of Millsboro, Adam Keever of Newark, Alexander Jenks of Rehoboth Beach, Charles Collins of Newark,
From left, Todd Shaffer briefs firefighters Scott Veasey of Millsboro, Adam Keever of Newark, Alexander Jenks of Rehoboth Beach, Charles Collins of Newark, Todd Gsell of Townsend, Bart Wilson of Dover, Daryl Trotman of Milford, and Bill Seybold of Dover.

 

Crew boss Sam Topper of the Delaware Forest Service is leading a 20-person team that is headed to the Rocky Mountains on a two-week assignment to battle wildfires in the West.
Crew boss Sam Topper of the Delaware Forest Service is leading a 20-person team from the First State on a two-week assignment to battle wildfires in the West.

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.  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.  Crews also helped hurricane relief efforts for the FEMA when Hurricane Irene swept through New England.

 

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

Delaware Wildland Fire Crew Members and Hometowns

Name Hometown
Samual L. Topper (Crew Boss) Federalsburg, MD
Todd W. Shaffer Smithsburg, MD
Michael L. Krumrine Magnolia
Scott A. Veasey Millsboro
Todd D. Gsell Townsend
Bartholomew D. Wilson Dover
Jeffrey A. Wilson Clayton
Adam N. Keever Newark
Daryl D. Trotman Milford
William T. Seybold Dover
Nathaniel J. Sommers Smyrna
Daniel A. Mihok Camden
Alexander J. Jenks Rehoboth Beach
Laura K. Yowell (R) Trappe, MD
Christopher R. Valenti (R) Dover
Spencer F. Valenti (R) Dover
Zachary R. Brown (R) Harbeson
Christopher S. Riale (R) New Castle
Charles D. Collins (R) Newark
Monica L. Testa Newark


Delaware Forest Service awards volunteer fire grants

From left, Smokey Bear joined Greenwood Fire Company chief Mark Anderson and firefighter Justin Minton as they received a check for $1504 from the Delaware Forest Service's assistant state forester Kyle Hoyd, who ovesees the agency's wildland fire program. The matching grant will fund equipment used to improve Greenwood's readiness to respond to wildfires.
From left, Smokey Bear joined Greenwood Fire Company chief Mark Anderson and firefighter Justin Minton as they received a check for $1504 from the Delaware Forest Service’s assistant state forester Kyle Hoyd, who oversees the Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program. The matching grant will improve Greenwood’s readiness to respond to wildfires.

The Delaware Forest Service (DFS) has awarded $22,000 in grants to eight volunteer fire companies to purchase equipment to fight wildfires and improve their wildfire readiness and capabilities. In the past 10 years, the DFS has provided 122 grants totaling more than $288,000 to many of Delaware’s 60 volunteer fire companies through its Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program, funded by the U.S. Forest Service.

Volunteer Fire Company Award Match
Aetna Hose, Hook, & Ladder Co. #7, 8, 9, 10 $3,452.25 $4,500.00
Felton Community Fire Co. #48 $2,250.00 $2,259.00
Leipsic Volunteer Fire Co. #53 $1,938.00 $3,876.00
Volunteer Hose Co. #27 $4,500.00 $4,500.00
Talleyville Volunteer Fire Co.   #25 $3,747.50 $7,495.00
Greenwood Fire Company #78 $1,504.14 $3,008.27
Laurel Fire Department #81 $1,628.00 $4,778.00
Mill Creek Fire Co. #2, 21 $2,980.11 $5,031.96
Total $22,000.00 $35,448.23

 

From left, Smokey Bear joined Leipsic Volunteer Fire Company's chief Mike Greco as he accepted a $1938 grant from the Delaware Forest Service's Kyle Hoyd, who administers the agency's wildland fire program. The check is part of a matching grant program to help volunteer fire companies purchase tools and equipment to fight wildfires in their communities.
Smokey Bear joined Leipsic Volunteer Fire Company’s chief Mike Greco as he accepted a $1938 grant from the Delaware Forest Service’s Kyle Hoyd, who administers the agency’s wildland fire program. The check is part of a matching grant program to help volunteer fire companies purchase tools and equipment to fight wildfires in their communities.

The matching grant program also represents a cost-effective use of limited federal funds. While applicants must offer a minimum of 50 percent in cost-share match for its request, many provide much more, which resulted in every federal dollar being matched with $1.61 in spending from the recipient. The grants help underwrite the cost of useful items and equipment to help volunteer firefighters meet the unexpected and often unpredictable threat of wildfires in fields, forests, open spaces, and marshes. Funds can be used to purchase items such as Nomex – the lightweight fire-resistant clothing used by wildland firefighters – or necessary equipment such as two-way radios, hoses, drip torches, flashlights, pumps, hoses, gloves, boots or chainsaws.

The 60 volunteer fire companies in the First State are extremely vital to the mission of the Delaware Forest Service as they provide much of the manpower and equipment to fight wildfires in the state. In fact, many members of Delaware’s wildland fire crew who help battle blazes in the western United States are drawn from the ranks of local volunteer fire companies.

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. This year, $12,000 was spent in association with the Delaware State Fire School to help offset the costs of basic training courses for a total of 138 wildland firefighters.


Delaware crew heads to the Northwest as wildfire season heats up

 

Link to crew departure on Delaware Forest Service Facebook photo album

In response to increased wildfire activity in the western United States, the Delaware Forest Service (DFS) dispatched a crew of volunteer wildland firefighters from Blackbird State Forest in Smyrna on Saturday, July 19 that traveled to Redmond, Oregon. The team is getting in position to fight a wildfire in that region and should receive its assignment in the next 24 hours. 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 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 (NWCG), have passed a core set of wildfire training courses at the Delaware State Fire School in Dover, completed “live-burn” fire training at the DFS’ annual “Fire Camp,” and completed the demands of the work capacity or “pack test,” which involves carrying a 45-pound pack over a three-mile course in less than 45 minutes.

Front Row: Bart Wilson, Dover; Jeffrey Wilson, Clayton; Monica Testa, Newark; Louis Sparko, Rehoboth Beach; Alexander Pratt, West Conshohocken PA; Andrew Plotts, Claymont; Second Row: Tyaire Ferrell, Wilmington; Thomas Morgan, Claymont; Jenifer DeCarlo, Felton, Matt Dotterer, Milton; Samual Topper, Federalsburg MD Back Row: Amber Havrila, Felton; Adam Keever, Port Penn; Tyler Torres, Smyrna; Michael Krumrine, Newark; Doug Rawlings, Newark; Alexander Jenks, Rehoboth Beach; Scott Veasey, Millsboro.
FRONT ROW: Bart Wilson, Dover; Jeffrey Wilson, Clayton; Monica Testa, Newark; Louis Sparko, Rehoboth Beach; Alexander Pratt, West Conshohocken PA; Andrew Plotts, Claymont; Nathaniel Sommers, Smyrna.   SECOND ROW: Tyaire Ferrell, Wilmington; Thomas Morgan, Claymont; Jenifer DeCarlo, Felton, Matt Dotterer, Milton; Samual Topper, Federalsburg MD.   BACK ROW: Amber Havrila, Felton; Adam Keever, Newark; Tyler Torres, Smyrna; Michael Krumrine, Newark; Doug Rawlings, Newark; Alexander Jenks, Rehoboth Beach; Scott Veasey, Millsboro.

Delaware Crew Members

Name, Hometown and Affililiations
Samual Topper, Federalsburg, MD – Delaware Forest Service
Monica Testa, Newark  – EMT, Volunteer Firefighter
Nathaniel Sommers, Smyrna
Jeff Wilson, Clayton  – New Castle Co. Forestry
Bart Wilson, Dover  – Center for Inland Bays
Alexander Pratt, W. Conshohocken, PA
Andrew Plotts*, Claymont  – Claymont Fire Co.
Louis Sarko*, Rehoboth Beach
Matt Dotterer, Milton  – Milton Volunteer Fire Dept.
Thomas Morgan*, Claymont  – Claymont Fire Co.
Tyaire Ferrell*, Wilmington  – Holloway Terrace Fire Co.
Jenifer DeCarlo, Felton  – Felton Fire Co.
Scott Veasey, Millsboro  – Millsboro Fire Co.
Tyler Torres, Smyrna  – Citizens Hose Co. of Smyrna
Adam Keever, Newark  – DNREC Parks & Recreation
Doug Rawling, Newark – DNREC Parks & Recreation
Amber Havrilla, Felton  – Felton Fire Co.
Alexander Jenks*, Rehoboth Beach

* First assignment with Delaware crew

Additional Crew (not pictured)
Matt Scheetz FALB unknown
David Scamardella FFT2 unknown

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More information, contact John Petersen – john.petersen@delaware.gov